Program to bring exchange students to Blaine
By Jack Kintner
Can you trade a place to sleep and an extra setting for breakfast and dinner for three weeks for a chance to make a life-long friend from China? Teachers Mike and Amanda Dahl are hoping they can find 16 families who will say yes.
Working with Cultural Exchange International, a program that provides exchange student placements for terms ranging from a few weeks to a year, they’re hoping to bring 30 students to Blaine for three weeks beginning July 21.
The 27 girls, three boys and two adult supervisors are all from the Jiulongpo district of Chong Qing (formerly called Chung King). The largest city in western China, it’s 1,500 miles up the Yangtze River from Shanghai and near the site of the Three Gorges dam.
“We’re asking you to open your heart and your home to a 14 or 15 year-old student from China,” said Mike Dahl, 32, who graduated from Blaine high school 16 years ago and returns there to teach science in the fall. Amanda (Tuski) Dahl graduated from Blaine in 1995. The couple spent the last two years teaching in Africa and recently moved back to Blaine with their daughters Odelia, 3, and Lucy, 3 months.
“It’s a great experience, to have a real cultural exchange like this,” said Mike Dahl, whose family hosted a Japanese exchange student when he was in high school. “We’re the Peace Arch city, after all, and getting to know people in other parts of the world is a great way to promote peace,” he said.
The students will be in English classes that the Dahls will teach beginning at 9 a.m. during the week, and will have activities in the afternoon that will usually end by 4 p.m. or earlier. Weekends are free for activities with host families. Host families are expected to provide suitable sleeping arrangements, though not necessarily a separate room, and morning and evening meals.