Sadly, COVID-19 has created it much more challenging to connect with potential people, Cathcart said. That’s since numerous normal avenues — this sort of as PTA meetings, university sporting activities situations and community festivals — have been shut down for the earlier calendar year.

“It truly is been difficult,” Cathcart explained. “This is an abnormal time for all people.”

Instead, she’s been undertaking some host-household prospecting on the internet, and that is how she identified Michael and Meilii Halfmann, who moved in this article from Tucson, Arizona, 3 many years ago. Both of those are teachers — Michael retired right after 25 decades, even though Meilii functions at John P. Fishwick Center Faculty.

In Tucson, back when their (now grownup) son and daughter were university-age, the Halfmanns hosted six unique exchange college students. Although that was several years ago, Michael Halfmann can nonetheless reel off the kids’ first names. He did that for me in excess of the phone.

The Halfmanns foresee internet hosting a woman trade university student from Germany this forthcoming slide. The couple already are creating a checklist of places they intend to get her — this sort of as Washington, D.C., Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

They also intend to consider her on community jaunts, such as to Mabry Mill, the most photographed place on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Just one of the objectives of the application is cultural exchange, Cathcart stated. When men and women from various nations get to know each individual other on a individual level, it lowers generalized worry, suspicion and distrust. And that has very long-phrase global advantages.