In 1966, then-high school senior Kathy Harenski rode a ship to Germany to study abroad with the AFS exchange program. She loved the experience, and decided to start hosting students at her own home in Natrona Heights. She’s now been taking part in the program for 35 years, and is encouraging families in the Pittsburgh area to host international students.
“I got interested because our school had hosted a student from New Zealand,” she said about her experience in high school. “And I just thought how great it was to be able to go to another place and in my case, learn another language, and really be able to expand my horizons.”
This year’s young people represent nearly 40 countries, and will get to experience American high school, sporting events, and field trips to landmarks and cities. Students can stay during the fall or spring semesters, or over an entire academic year. Host families are expected to provide room, board and support to the students throughout their program.
Harenski, who is Highlands High School’s AFS liaison, said the organization has a long history of promoting global citizenship and peace.
“In World War II, the American Field Service was an ambulance corps that took wounded [soldiers] off of the field for both sides, actually, at times,” she said. “So after World War II, the ambulance drivers said, how can we promote peace? And they thought of this idea.”
AFS-USA has been connecting families…