ROME, Ga. - With many of Georgia’s schools putting a halt to their foreign exchange programs due to the pandemic, many international students’ dreams were put on hold.
However, with an end of the pandemic appearing to be in sight, they are planning a big return come September. An organization that helps the high schoolers come here said it is looking for families who want to host the students.
"We have so many students this year that we are trying to place who especially wants to come to this area of Atlanta," said Renee Stanton, a community representative for the non-profit organization Ayusa. "It’s so exciting."
Bob and Candy Murdock, residents of Rome, Georgia, said they have hosted more than two dozen foreign exchange students.
"We just like the idea of giving people a home, a chance to visit our country and see what things are like," said Bob Murdock. "They’re just like your family. They bring other experiences and first-hand experiences from their country."
Hoi Ching Lung, a junior in high school from Hong Kong who is staying with the Murdocks, said she came here to expand her horizons.
"I would like to experience staying in another country and improve my English," she said. "Rome, Georgia, is like, a small town, and Hong Kong is a big city."
Lung is one of the only foreign exchange students who was able to come to our area for the school year, Stanton said.
"A lot of them decided to postpone their American dream of coming to the United States," she said. "They now have an opportunity to come this year, and live our their dream because so many students, it’s their dream and it’s their passion to see American culture."
After Hoi Chung spoke with FOX 5, the family said she was getting ready for her very first prom Saturday evening at Rome High School. She also said she is interested in returning to Georgia to study engineering.
For more information on hosting an international high school student, visit Ayusa’s website.
Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.