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Despite COVID 19, foreign exchange students still coming to mid-Michigan

Posted at 9:15 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 07:21:42-05

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The pandemic is not stopping foreign exchange students from experiencing the America. International students are still traveling to the Lansing area for study abroad programs.

Jennifer Pizzo, Michigan field manager of International Cultural Exchange Services, said this is possible because the U.S. Department of State is giving exchange students an exemption for educational travel.

“They were given an exemption this year, to still come knowing that they were coming for high school education, and that they were not here working or taking jobs away from you know, the American people in this difficult time that we live with,” Pizzo said.

Ona Gomez

Organizations like International Cultural Exchange Services have been helping students like Ona Gomez, a 10th grader from Barcelona, Spain, study in the greater Lansing area.

Although the exchange students are doing a lot of hybrid learning, Gomez says her experience has still been amazing

“I've been here already for seven months, and it feels like two,” she said.

Gomez attends Grand Ledge High School and is loving her experience so far. She says it feels like the movies.

Ona Gomez

Since being here, she has been able to participate in the Grand Ledge’s cheerleading team and enjoy holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween. Nothing was going to stop her from coming.

“I'm going to go because I was mentally prepared for this...And I said, I'm going,” Gomez said.

The organization currently has students placed in Mason, Grand Ledge, Stockbridge, Eaton Rapids, Mason and St. Johns.

Pizzo says she is still looking for more host families in the greater Lansing area. For the fall, they’re looking to place more than 1,200 students.

“We are looking every day for new host families. Right now we are in the middle of placing for the fall 2021 school year.”

For mid-Michigan, they’ve have brought in approximately 100 students between August and September and 10 students in January.

Ona Gomez

Pizzo says that host families in the area have been willing to take the students if they know they’re symptom free. As for the safety of the visiting students, host families have been doing a “mini quarantine.”

Pizzo believes that even during the pandemic, it's important for exchange students to still have this experience. And although classes are hybrid, their experience is still charged with learning.

“They still are coming with the mindset that they still are improving their English, which is their, you know, number one reason for coming," she said "They're still getting to live with an American family and see what our traditions and values and culture is like living with an American family. So all of those are reasons why we still have we still do have students coming.”

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Asya Lawrence

1:07 PM, Jun 15, 2022

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Asya Lawrence

FOX 47 News Neighborhood Newsletter