Foreign exchange students looking for West Virginia host families

Local News

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Local coordinator for International Cultural Exchange Services, Thomas Perry, is looking for host families for approximately 40 students who want to spend their upcoming school year in West Virginia.

“The relationships that are formed during that time don’t just last 10 months, they last a lifetime,” Perry said. “We are currently on task for about 40 students and we would like to have more. We never have enough host families.”

Perry says he often sits in the Rose Garden at Ritter Park in Huntington in hopes of speaking with passersby about his organization, ICES, which stands for International Cultural Exchange Services.

“I can share with them what i’m doing and hopefully the seed we plant will take root and they’ll offer to host a foreign exchange student,” Perry said.

Perry says students from all over the world often request West Virginia. He explained by being a host family a bridge is built. Perry says that relationship with someone from the other side of the world, whose culture, and language is so different, is very powerful

“It’s a big world out there, but unless we create the relationships, and create a better understanding of one another, then we’re destined to repeat what we’ve done in the past,” Perry said.

Being a host family doesn’t just benefit the student or the family. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with the U.S. State Department states being a host benefits the country, too. They say programs like the one Perry is part of “cultivates people-to-people ties among current and future global leaders that build enduring networks and personal relationships,” according to the website.

“There is a better world in front of us.” Perry said. “There is a tremendous opportunity and this is just one of the many ways that we can make a better tomorrow.”

Perry says his years of being in the military and travelling abroad lead him down this path. He says connecting families with students and building those relationships is his way of giving back.

For more information on how you can be a host family for a foreign exchange student you can contact Thomas Perry directly at 304-710-6010 or

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