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Become a host family; Remember upcoming events

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By Roberta Hunt

As Kentucky celebrates 100 years of 4-H, it is interesting to many to learn of how the 4-H program has gone global. 4-H and related programs exist in over 80 countries around the world.  These programs operate independently as there is no international 4-H organization.  However, through international exchanges, global education programs and communications, they share a common bond in 4-H.

4-H programs have also been established on military bases around the United States and in other countries. This enables children of military personnel to participate in a program that teaches life skills, leadership and citizenship.

State 4-H programs such as Kentucky 4-H, support international exchanges where young people from other countries live with host families or where our youth travel and stay in other countries to increase global awareness, develop independent study interests and improve language skills. Several Washington County youth over the years have participated in these programs including the LABO and UTREK programs whose information is included in this week’s 4-H news.

This summer, 20 young people from Japan along with two adult chaperones will come to Kentucky to learn about American families and culture. A great way for a 4-H family to take part in this international experience is by becoming a host family for one of these students. Applications are now being accepted.

Not only do 4-H host families get to enjoy helping the Japanese 4-H learn about American families and culture, but they also learn about Japanese culture, customs and history. Many times, international bonds that last a lifetime are created.

The Japanese young people are from two different 4-H programs, Language Laboratory and UTREK.

Youths in the Language Laboratory, or LABO, program are between the ages of 12 and 15. These young people want to experience the life of an average American family.  They will spend July 22 through Aug. 18 with their host families.  Host families must be able to pick up their new sibling on July 22 in Louisville and return them Aug 18 to the same location.

Japanese young people in the UTREK program are between 14- and 16-years-old. They are interested in learning about the natural environments of both the United States and Japan. They will arrive the same day as LABO participants but spend their first few days in the state at a local 4-H camp. There they will experience camp life and take day trips around the state. This year, UTREK host siblings are asked to stay with their Japanese sibling from July 24 to 26 at the 4-H camp. Both will return to the rest of their host families July 26. UTREK participants will stay with their host families until Aug. 18. Like LABO participants, host families must bring UTREK youths to Louisville at this time for their return trip.

There is no cost or language requirement to become a host family, but host families should have a child that is of similar age and gender as the international 4-H’er. Host parents should provide for the Japanese 4-H’er the same way they do their own children.  International 4-H’ers should have their own area and bed, but can share a room with their host sibling.

Host families are encouraged not to plan extravagant trips or deviate from their daily routines. The Japanese youths bring their own spending money for any extras they may want to purchase.

Since the program focuses on American culture, the Japanese youths will not be placed in homes of families with the same cultural background. While in the United States, the international 4-H’ers and their host families can participate in 4-H programs at any level in which they are comfortable. However, the family does not need to be 4-H members, and 4-H participation is not required.

If you do not have a child but would like to participate in the program, you can become a host for one of the two group chaperones. The chaperones have good English-speaking skills and will stay with a host family for either a 2- or 4-week period. The chaperones’ main objective is to help with communication and facilitate problems any of the Japanese youths may have.

If you are interested in becoming a host family or receiving more information on international opportunities through 4-H, contact Mark Mains, 4-H International Program coordinator, at 859-257-5961, ext. 231 ormark.mains@uky.edu.

Requesting information does not obligate families to host students this year. Biographies of the Japanese youths can be obtained after an application for hosting is submitted and approved.

Another resource for information on international 4-H programs includes the National 4-H Web site.  Go to www.national4-hheadquarters.gov/about/4-h_world.htm.

UPCOMING 4-H EVENTS & REMINDERS

A 4-H Centennial newsletter has been mailed this week to current 4-H members, community groups and several 4-H alumni.  The newsletter includes details on the March 21 Washington County Centennial Celebration that will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the River of Life Community Church.  Anyone wishing to have a copy may contact the extension office.

During the spring, there will be numerous 4-H activities and events open to all 4-H members.  The March 4-H newsletter includes all of the registration information for these events including the 4-H Talent Show, the 4-H Poster Contest, 4-H workshops in March and April and the 4-H Camp pre-registration form.  Additional newsletters are available from the extension office or by calling at 336-7741 to receive one through the mail.

The 4-H Teen Club is sponsoring a Coffee House on Friday, March 6, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Wesley House located on Main Street.  Pre-registration is required by Thursday, March 5. The cost is $8 for 4-H members and $10 for other Washington County High School students.  Forms may be picked up from Michelle Hayes and Debbie McIntosh at the high school or from the extension office.

March 6 is the deadline for those who want to sign up for the 4-H Weaving Workshop that will be held Monday, March 9, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the extension office.

The 4-H Hooves & Horns will hold their next meeting on Thursday, March 12, 6 p.m. at the extension office.