In this time of ongoing turmoil, student exchange is good medicine for a world torn by terror. We want to invite the families of Portland to help us combat international fears and prejudices by welcoming a teen into their homes and hearts!

In recent weeks, all eyes were turned to the Olympics. But as many of us were cheering on our favorite athlete, many of us quietly held our breath: Rumors of a potential terrorist threat were woven through the press and social media.

The result? Fear. “International,” a word once celebrated as exciting and elite, now feels scary and oppressive.

And yet – we have a choice!

If we want to break down prejudices and build understanding, relationship is the most likely antidote. Welcoming an international student is a simple, tangible way to teach our children that different is not dangerous. When students engage with a classmate from Germany or Thailand, they begin to see the world differently. They become more likely to judge the country based on their friendship (and not the other way around).

In short: Exchange students provide a much-needed way to let “global” be good again.

We are looking forward to bringing exchange students to Casco Bay High School, but we are still looking for host families to welcome these students. We can’t do it without community support.

We urge readers to help us bring all students “home.” We are seeking host homes for 25 students from Germany, Thailand, Spain and Italy. All students must have a host home by Aug. 31. Readers can consider helping by hosting as a short-term or long-term host family.

To learn more, readers may contact International Experience directly at 888-266-2921, and we will connect you with the local coordinator in your area, or visit www.IE-USA.org.

Jodi Lundell

national director, International Experience

Northfield, Minnesota