Host families needed as Japanese student visitors return to Prince Albert

Daily Herald File Photo A group of 21 Japanese students will be visiting Ecole St. Mary High School in March and host families are needed.

St. Mary High School will host a group of Japanese high school students for nearly two weeks in March, but before that happens they need a place to stay.

A group of 21 female high school students from Japan will be coming to Prince Albert from March 19-31. They will attend classes at St. Mary High School on school days, then spend evenings and weekends with their host families.

Jeannette Eddolls facilitated the visit in past years and is in charge of finding them places to stay once again. She said it’s an exciting two weeks for the students, and for local families.

“It’s a very enriching opportunity for families, as well as for the school,” she said. “In PA we don’t have very many people of Japanese origin, so it gives a different cultural dynamic, even though we are quite a multicultural city.”

This year’s visit will be the first since 2019 after COVID foced the cancellation of previous trips. Eddolls said they need one home per student so that each one has their own host family.

Eddolls said they want 23 host families total, and are still searching for 12 more.

Ideally, she wants to have all families confirmed by the middle of February.

“I’m running out of ideas about who I can be shoulder tapping,” Eddolls said. “People’s lives change over five years. People move away and family dynamics change and all that kind of stuff.

“It’s layered for sure, in terms of complications.”

The Sisters of the Presentation of Mary first started hosting Japanese students at the former Rivier Academy. Even though the school no longer exists, Eddolls said officials and students in Japan still wanted to make the trip.

“Their school had directly contacted me about a year plus ago asking if I would consider managing a program like this again because they like the community, they like the school, (and) they like our host families,” Eddolls said. “They like the different activities that we get them involved in, so that’s a good strong kudos for Prince Albert overall.

Host families must speak English when the student is in the home, provide three meals a day including a school lunch, provide a private bedroom with a window and include the student as a member of the family. A host family can also be a home with a single female.

The families are also expected to transport the student to and from Ecole St. Mary High School on each class day. Eddolls said carpooling can usually be arranged to make this work.

Families must complete a host family application and obtain a Criminal Record Check. This can be done online at no cost to the family.

They are also expected to attend a host a host family orientation meeting on March 13 at 7 p.m. and attend a farewell program on March 27 at 7 p.m. There will also be a bowling evening with a date to be determined.

Global Partners North America will conduct a home family visit prior to placement., provide a student application, provide insurance coverage, provide support throughout the students’ time in Prince Albert and provide an honorarium of $50/night stay at the end of the students’ visit.

Students are expected to engage with the host families and provide a different cultural perspective in the home.

If you are interested; please contact Eddolls at 306-960-4648.

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division board of education approved the visit in April.