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Youth, families share culture

"We were carving pumpkins, and Marco came in and said 'what are all the squash doing in the house?'" McKenna joked.

Likewise, he helped debunk misconceptions about his own country, providing a valuable cultural exchange for both his peers and host family. Bekcac said he hopes future host families will appreciate the same experience.

"If they're willing to learn about how other people live, they will probably learn how fortunate they are," he said.

Last year, seven participants in the program were hosted by families in and around Willsboro. Four students are poised to come to the area for this school year, but the list of volunteer host families is short, said Lustig.

"When they're accepted, they feel like they've hit the lottery," said McKenna. If no host family is found for the students, however, their visit is delayed for weeks or even months.

"It doesn't have to be a family that has kids in high school or college," said Lustig, who suggested that hosting an exchange student might be a nice change of pace for retirees. Families don't have to be in Willsboro, either, he said, as other schools have opened their doors to American Councils participants.

"Most schools like to have foreign exchange students to create more diversity," he said.

Those interested in becoming a host family for American Councils should contact Lustig by e-mail at clustig1@yahoo.com or by phone at 963-7789.

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