Mieko Dohi and Yuri Takamo from Osaka took part in last year’s student program.
Mieko Dohi and Yuri Takamo from Osaka took part in last year’s student program. Trevor Veale

Taste of other cultures at home

COFFS Coast residents can now sample other cultures without having to leave home.

Southern Cross University’s English Language Centre will host an information night for anyone interested in participating in the Homestay program at 5.30pm tomorrow night at the Coffs Harbour campus.

Students ranging from high school to university age visit Coffs Harbour for short English language programs of one to three weeks as well as for long-term programs which run for a minimum of 10 weeks.

Homestay co-ordinator Nicky Dunstan said the program provided benefits for the students and the families who hosted them.

“We have a number of short stay programs coming up with students from Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia and China as well as long stay students and we are looking to increase the number of host families we have on our books,” Ms Dunstan said.

“Living in an English-speaking home provides a great opportunity for our students and at the same time families get to experience another culture without leaving home.

“For many couples and families with children it’s a very rewarding activity.”

Denise Tonkin and her husband regularly host international students and have done for many years – most recently from Japan, China and Korea.

“We really enjoy talking to the students about their home country and culture,” Mrs Tonkin said.

“It’s a very rewarding experience and it’s great to see Australia through the ‘fresh’ outlook of newly arrived students.

“It is a pleasure to watch the students improve their English and blossom into confident young people with an expanded knowledge of the world and know that you have helped to achieve that.”

Like most Homestay families, Mrs Tonkin has formed some long-term relationships with past students and still stays in regular contact.

Ms Dunstan said host families received a weekly payment and in return were expected to provide accommodation, meals, access to household facilities and inclusion in family activities.

Families or individuals interested in hosting students for either short or long term stays will need to undergo the working-with-children check.

Ms Dunstan said a number of current Homestay program families would be attending the information session and would be available to answer questions.

For more information or to RSVP, please call 6659 3647 or email coffsenglish@scu.edu.au.

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