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Published: Monday, 1/6/2014

Host families sought for visiting Chinese school boys

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WANTED: Families in the Woodmore, Rossford, and Oregon school districts willing to host Chinese middle school boys for three weeks.

The boys are part of a special delegation of students from China between the ages of 12 and 14 who are visiting those school districts on behalf of an American Cultural Exchange Service program. The students arrive at Toledo Express Airport on Saturday, and will be in northwest Ohio through Feb. 2.

The American Cultural Exchange Service, which also calls itself ACES, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental group based in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, Wash., that has sponsored visitors from abroad since 1995. Its goal is to help promote the concept of world peace through a greater understanding of cultures.

“We want them to see all of the opportunities and freedoms we have,” Val Virag, an Oregon resident and an ACES regional director for six states, said.

ACES said on its Web site it has developed partnerships in more than 40 countries, with more than 300 high schools and six colleges and universities in the United States. The group said it has served nearly 2,500 participants, from students to teachers to athletes, coaches, and performing artists in those 19 years.

Communities east of Toledo are no stranger to its exchange program.

Last year, ACES sponsored a group of Chinese students for a three-week visit to Eastwood and Rossford schools, Ms. Virag said.

In 2012, it arranged for a group of Chinese students to visit Genoa, Oregon, and Rossford schools, she said.

The upcoming delegation is to consist of 30 Chinese middle-school pupils and three teachers from China. Twenty-two of the students are boys, and eight are girls, Ms. Virag said.

The students are coming from two schools in China.

Accommodations have been made for each of the girls.

The group needs five more families from the Woodmore district to host boys. It also needs three more from Rossford, and two more from Oregon, Ms. Virag said.

Families willing to host visiting students from China are asked to call Ms. Virag at 419-466-7074 or email her at valviragsiec@aol.com.

Travel is expected to be provided by host families to sights ACES wants the students to see while in northwest Ohio.

The group wants the kids to see Lake Erie, the Toledo Zoo, the Challenger Learning Center of Lake Erie West in Oregon, Imagination Station, and whatever else the host families want to offer. It also wants the youths to engage in activities such as roller skating, bowling, and shopping.

Students and host families usually grow close, Ms. Virag said.

“It’s amazing how much in three short weeks they will bond with these families,” she said. “Primarily, we want China to understand the true American spirit.”

A reception for the visiting students and teachers is planned for 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday inside Bulldog Hall on the Rossford High School campus, Ms. Virag said.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.



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