As of Friday, August 11, 2017
The Rotary Club is looking for local families to take in a South Korean exchange student who will be arriving in The Dalles the week of Aug. 24-31.
Hyeong Jung, 17, comes from a school about the same size as The Dalles High School, where he will soon enroll as a senior.
There is a backup family that will host him for a time while other host families are lined up, said Dan Boldt, a member of Rotary Club who has a 25-year history with the exchange program.
Exchange students pay their own way here, have their own insurance – which is not only health insurance but comprehensive traveler’s insurance also — and get spending money each month from Rotary.
Host families are expected to simply take the student in as one of their own family members, someone they feed and house and do family activities with.
The student will spend time with three host families over the course of the school year.
Those interested in hosting, which requires passing a background check, are asked to call Dennis Morgan at 541-980-3669.
In his application, Hyeong said he likes to ride horses, is a history buff who likes to read, and he hopes to master English so he can become a military officer.
His dad owns a company and his mom stays at home. He said his house is large by Korean standards, but perhaps not by foreign standards. The family is Catholic, and he has two older sisters, one in college and one who is working.
Morgan’s family has hosted a student from Thailand, and his own daughter did an exchange to England.
“It’s a great opportunity to build cultural ties,” Morgan said.
Boldt said the exchange students are competitively selected. “On the whole they’re great, it’s really fun to be around bright kids.”
Boldt’s family has hosted kids three times. “You become family. Our first girl, she’s Finnish, and she’s part of our family.”
Morgan agreed, saying, “Basically you welcome them into your home as part of the family, assimilate them as part of the family.”
He even asked the student he hosted if he wanted to call him and his wife Shannon mom and dad, and the student decided to do that.
Morgan typically looks to Rotary Club members to host exchange students, but “as with a lot of service clubs, we’re kind of aging out and you can’t keep tapping the same people all the time.”
He will be asking other local service club members to consider hosting as well. “I won’t say it’s all roses, but it’s an experience that we’ll never forget, having that student in our home, becoming part of our family.”
He said the experience is “life altering, in a good way.”
Morgan said families who have a student thinking of becoming an exchange student might also consider becoming a host family to get a sense of the program.