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Fort Macleod families needed to host visiting students

Visiting Columbian student Ximena Fonsceca with Hailyn Zimmer in 2017.

Visiting Columbian student Ximena Fonsceca with Hailyn Zimmer in 2017.

Fort Macleod and district residents are urged to open their homes to visiting students from Columbia and Chile.
People will be glad they became homestay families, according to Amanda Zimmer of Claresholm.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Zimmer, who with her husband Craig and daughter Hailyn have hosted three foreign students and are signed up for a fourth.
Livingstone Range School Division is looking for homestay families to host male and female students aged 15 to 17 years from Chile and Columbia.
Students may stay for one month, one semester, one year, or an amount of time in-between.
Remuneration, depending on the length of stay, is offered to offset the student’s living costs.
“We need to know immediately if anyone is interested as the students are coming September long weekend for start of the school year,” homestay program co-ordinator Jas Schmirler said.
The Zimmer family hosted its first 12-year-old student from Columbia for four weeks.
“It was a great fit,” Amanda Zimmer said. “They were really great about pairing us with a student they thought would fit our family well.”
The second student, a 16-year-old girl from Columbia, spent a semester living with the Zimmers.
The third student, a 14-year-old girl also from Columbia, stayed with the Zimmers for six weeks.
The Zimmers’ next guest is a student from Germany.
Amanda Zimmer said being a homestay family has many rewards.
“We have made life-long connections with three girls,” Zimmer said, noting they have learned about Columbia and its culture from their guests.
Zimmer said her own daughter also gained confidence in the role of host.
In addition, the Zimmers enjoyed new experiences as they showed their guests around Alberta.
“It was just a geat experience for us,” Zimmer said. “I would recommend it to anyone.”
Zimmer said Schmirler and the staff at Livingstone Range provide homestay parents with excellent support.
Homestay families are asked to provide the following amenities:

  • A private bedroom.
  • Three wholesome meals a day and snacks as required.
  • A quiet, well-lit and heated study space.
  • Access to the common living areas of the house.
  • Hot water and facilities for bathing.
  • Laundry.
  • Emotional and academic support.
  • Interaction with family members.
  • Participation in family activities.
  • Internet connection

A criminal record check and a child intervention check are needed for all homestay family residents over the age of 18.
To learn more or to fill out an application, please visit, phone Jas Schmirler at 403-625-3356, or drop by the office at 5202 Fifth St. E., Claresholm.
“Families who may not be interested right now can still apply, that way at least the paperwork is done,” Schmirler noted. “We can keep them on file and they will be contacted when we have a match.”