The Italians are coming! The Italians are coming! And the Spanish as well.
The shores of Naples are about to be invaded by an armada of high school students from both Italy and Spain.
Sixty-eight teenagers ranging in age from 13 to 18 will be arriving in Naples on June 30 and July 1 for a month-long visit.
And they are looking for places to stay.
"The students are fully insured and bring their own spending money," said Linda Colburn, who coordinates the effort for the Education First Educational Homestay Programs, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.
The students will be under the supervision of the Education First program staff from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, when they will be attending language classes in the morning and participating in a variety of organized educational activities and field trips.
Host families are asked to provide a bed, meals and transportation to and from the local course center.
Classes are held at the New Hope Ministries, a nondenominational bible church located on Davis Boulevard. For those students staying in homes in the north and east areas in town, a bus stop will be located at the Publix store at the Vineyards.
Education First is a global language travel company specializing in international cultural exchange, foreign language instruction and educational travel.
According to their website EF is the world’s largest independent educational institution and was the official language training services supplier for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The Educational Homestay Program is dedicated to the promotion of international understanding through cultural exchange and language learning. As is the case with the Italian and Spanish youngsters coming to Naples, EHP students come from many countries to stay with host families in North America in order to engage in language lessons and participate in cultural activities.
When asked how students from Spain and Italy were chosen, EF Coordinator Colburn said that "Spain and Italy just happen to be the two countries that actually chose us. They have been coming to the Naples area for a couple of years and word is out about how beautiful an area it is and how fun of a program we have for the kids. So they keep sending groups here year after year."
And during their stay in Naples, they will be engaged in all manner of activities. In the morning, they will take English and culture classes, while their afternoons will be more geared to fun and educational activities.
While the primary benefits accrue to the children participating, including the participating American teens, testimonials clearly show how much hosting families have gained and enjoyed by being hosts, and that their participation in the experience has many benefits.
Some talk about the relationships developed with the guest student. "A tearful goodbye was inevitable," wrote one family.
"Over the 10 years we opened our home to 15 EF students, we really valued our time with them," said another host.
Others stress the cultural benefits that the visiting children bring to the families they stay with.
"They brought their culture into our house and we benefited from that," wrote another family. "We shared our culture while experiencing another."
Sharing these experiences have broadened not only the knowledge of other cultures, but have lead to the development of close friendships as has been expressed by participants on both sides of the ocean.
In addition to the obvious one of being able to share cultural experiences, American teens can earn as many as 60 community service hours by their participation.
And American teens have the opportunity to study in other countries, and many do, under the auspices of the Education First Homestay Program.
For more information about the Naples program, contact Linda Colburn at firstname.lastname@example.org . The website for Educational Homestay Program is www.efhomestay.org.