Madison County/Japanese Homestay Program
In 1990, Madison County entered into a sister-region agreement with the Yatsugatake Region in Japan in order to encourage cultural and educational exchange programs between the two communities.
One of the goals of the sister-region agreement was to develop a middle school student exchange program between the two regions. As a result, in 1992, Japanese students and teachers visited Madison County for one week in the summer and stayed in the homes of our middle school students and teachers.
The following summer, those same Madison County students and teachers who hosted the Japanese visitors traveled to Japan for one week to stay in the homes of the students and teachers they hosted the previous year.
The program has evolved to now include four middle school students (two girls and two boys) from each of the seven middle schools in Madison County – Berea Community, B. Michael Caudill, Clark-Moores, Farristown, Foley Middle, Madison Middle, and Model Laboratory. The coordinating teacher for the program and one additional teacher from the district accompany the students to Japan. There are now 28 students and 2 teachers who host and travel in alternate years as the program is a two-year commitment once students are selected.
The students are chosen for the program based on a selection process that includes an essay, interview, and eligibility requirements. The families of the Madison County students are responsible for the transportation costs to Japan (approximately $1,700 for round-trip airfare). Other expenses incurred to participate in the program include the cost of hosting a student for one week, gifts for guests, and other miscellaneous items.
The students are prepared for the Japanese Homestay Program with Japanese language and culture workshops prior to the hosting and visiting experiences. The students are also encouraged to write and email their Japanese visitors prior to their coming to the United States. Friendships are kept alive through written communication and email until the Madison County students visit their Japanese counterparts the following year.
Parents and families play an important role in the Homestay Program. Parent committees develop a planned itinerary for the hosting week that may include welcoming dinners, picnics, camp-outs, sightseeing tours, and other group activities as well as time spent with individual host families.
The program provides unique enrichment opportunities for our middle school students that they can bring back and share with their fellow classmates. The Homestay Program is coordinated by a Madison County employee. For more information, contact Amie Gallion at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Foley Middle at 625-6140.