A larger than anticipated enrolment of overseas students in Southern Cross University's intensive English Study program has prompted a call for local families willing to host the visitors to contact SCU as soon as possible.
The visitors, who will live locally from 21 August-2 September, are part or full time students from Japanese universities and English language academies who come to Australia to polish their language skills in a 'real world' environment, explained SCU's Homestay Coordinator, Heike Kerber.
"It enables them to practise their language skills as well becoming involved with Australian family life," Ms Kerber added.
"Visiting groups undertake courses ranging in length from one to twelve weeks," she said. "Generally the students are in their late teens to their mid-twenties and are billeted on the basis of one student to a household".
The students take classes from Monday-Friday at SCU's Lismore campus and need to be dropped at the campus front gate in the morning and picked up in the afternoon.
"That means either living in Lismore or with a family in a nearby area from where someone drives to and from Lismore each day," Ms Kerber said.
On the weekend the homestay students are involved with their host family's normal activities. SCU organises occasional excursions for the students. Each host family receives an allowance to put towards the cost of looking after their visitor.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for a two-way cultural interaction between local people and young Japanese embarking on careers likely to involve a significant use of English," Ms Kerber said. "Feedback from both the host families and the visitors shows that the experience is richly rewarding. Most of the Japanese students have said they will cherish the memories for the rest of their lives, as indeed we would if we had the homestay experience in Japan."
An information session will be held soon for all new host families to ensure they understand what is expected, and to help overcome any cultural uncertainty. The get-together is also an opportunity for homstay families to meet each other.
Heike Kerber said SCU is seeking the involvement of at least thirty homestay families and invited prospective hosts to contact her office on (02) 6620 3429 or 0438 218201 for further details.