Connecticut Families: Why hosting an international student is beneficial for the whole family

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(WTNH) — Whether it was outing to Pepe’s Pizza or on the boat, the Gladues had a blast with their exchange student, Cynthia.

“She was very easy to deal with – outgoing, personable, fun,” says Heather Gladue of Milford. The 17-year-old from China lived with the family last year when she attended Lauralton Hall. She mixed well with the Gladue’s two sons, Chris and Cody.

“She got us presents for holidays,” says Chris. “She was really caring and responsible about what she did, too.”

Even so, the relationships need time.

“It takes about a month to get used to each other and once you get used to each other, it’s smooth sailing from there,” says Heather, noting that the benefits are reciprocal. “It’s great for my kids they learn about different cultures and how different people live different languages.”

“This is an opportunity, obviously, for students to appreciate the American culture,” says Sandra Gizzi of Apex International Education Partners. The Gladues worked with AIEP which is based in Derby. The program, for students from China, partners with 60 private high schools in eight states.

“We do look for parents and families that do have an extra bedroom for them with a desk, a closet,” says Gizzi, noting there are resources in place to deal with inevitable issues like homesickness. Families receive a $1,000 monthly stipend to offset cost of meals and transportation.

The Gladues muss Cynthia and can’t wait to visit her when she starts college here in the fall. They say she opened their eyes, expanded their horizons and touched their hearts.

“Now she’s a part of our family. My whole family welcomed her in,” says Heather. “She’s my adopted daughter.”

The Gladues are planning to welcome even more international students into their home. You can still host a student this fall. Click here for more information.

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