NEW SALEM — By providing housing for international exchange students, New Salem resident Jeanne Clayton mentioned she “opened her heart and her home” to cultural trade and reminiscences that will previous a life span.

Clayton and her husband, John, participated in the NW Companies scholar exchange method throughout the 2019-2020 school year. They learned about the software as a result of Area Coordinator Pat Darby, a retired instructor who has been putting trade students in educational facilities throughout Franklin County, and the total of Massachusetts, for 28 yrs with the NW Companies Endorsing Instruction And Cultural Exchange (PEACE) Program.

Pupils have attended from Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, France, Vietnam, Ecuador and Thailand.

The PEACE Software is a nonprofit intercontinental trade business for superior university college students, “dedicated to bringing the youth of various nations and cultures with each other at a household amount, forging bonds of friendship that will final a life span.” Darby stated students who participate in the program want to find out about American culture and typically share features of their own tradition.

“Host family members host mainly because they want to study about another culture and, without having even leaving their doorstop, they can have somebody come into their house and find out all kinds of matters about an additional state,” Darby reported.

Talking through Zoom this 7 days, Clayton shared a copy of a photograph book she manufactured from her time web hosting two exchange pupils — Angie, from Ecuador, and Tong, from Thailand, who had been both 18 several years outdated and attended Ralph C. Mahar Regional College in Orange during their continue to be. The reserve contained photographs of the pupils hopping on the university bus, attending prom, taking part in cornhole with the Claytons, and witnessing the seasons alter with the shades of fall and their initially time viewing snow.

“They the two liked cooking so that was a exciting issue, you know, producing points from their cultures,” Clayton reported. “I’d flip them unfastened in my kitchen.”

The pupils attended a avenue pageant in Turners Falls and the Japanese States Exposition in Springfield, toured Amherst College’s campus and witnessed ski jumping. As an outside individual, Clayton claimed she took the students on hikes to the Quabbin Reservoir and other area conservation parts. They volunteered at a close by apple orchard with Clayton, and even uncovered about maple sugaring.

The two overseas trade pupils submitted hand-drawn designs for the NW Services’ yearly Artwork Protect Layout Contest. The winner’s artwork is showcased on the once-a-year Advisory Record protect, and the scholar can acquire $500. Angie’s design examine, “It’s not a trip or family vacation, it is a next everyday living.” Tong’s submission had a human eye with a collection of imagery inside of the iris and the phrases, “The wonderful eye-opener.”

Clayton reported she very first uncovered about the NW Companies overseas trade plan immediately after studying an advertisement Darby put in the newspaper.

“It stated, ‘open your hearts and your house’ to an exchange college student, and this intrigued me,” Clayton claimed.

She and her partner, both of those 68, have no little ones of their personal and have traveled to various nations around the world this kind of as Italy, Eire and France, as properly as inside the United States. Clayton said her spouse has Parkinson’s disease and they are not able to travel like they utilized to, so they had been interested in Darby’s pitch to “bring the expertise of another culture” into their own house.

“I responded to what Pat set in the advertisement,” Clayton mentioned. “That’s what it felt like to me — sharing our dwelling and heartfelt experiences.”

Darby stated some households have volunteered above the several years to host pupils from numerous international locations. Pupils have been positioned with households in the Pioneer Valley and Ralph C. Mahar regional college districts in a long time previous, and participate in college golf equipment and athletics. However, the 2019-2020 college calendar year and exchange pupil program ended up minimize brief by the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clayton mentioned March 13 was the very last day ahead of the learners participated in remote understanding products.

Some college students stayed in the United States and completed lessons, when other individuals were being in a position to comprehensive remote understanding via their host faculties after securing flights again to their dwelling international locations. Darby mentioned she did not request college students or host family members to take part in the course of the 2020 to 2021 college year.

Now she is wanting for interested host people for the coming educational yr. She anticipates the method will be equipped to run as usual. She is aiming to place concerning six and 10 students, an average participation, with host households from September 2021 through May 2022. Host family members do not get monetary payment but are eligible for deduction statements on itemized tax returns.

Interested family members may perhaps master a lot more by contacting Darby at 978-632-8270, emailing [email protected] or checking out

Darby stated one particular household has hosted a lot more than 25 international exchange college students about the many years through NW Services’ PEACE Program. Most households keep in contact with the college students they host, occasionally touring to go to them in their home international locations.

“People host for unique motives, but primarily for the reason that they would like to find out about an additional culture, or expertise their food stuff and customs,” Darby reported, “just like students coming in this article want to do with our customs and traditions.”

Reporter Zack DeLuca can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4579.