Nantichi Ruangchainicom, whose nickname is "Bow" (as in bow and arrow), is an AFS exchange student from Thailand and will soon celebrate her first Christmas in Oak Park with the Arthur family. Bow is living with the Arthurs while attending Oak Park and River Forest High School through AFS Intercultural Programs/USA. AFS makes it possible for outstanding international high school students to live with host families to experience what it is like to live as a member of a family and community in the U.S. and to study at local high schools.
Considered perhaps the most American of holidays, Christmas gives AFS students the chance to experience American family traditions and customs. When asked about her feelings about the upcoming holiday, Bow said, "Everyone is so excited about Christmas. In Thailand there is nothing like this."
Host families open their homes and hearts to students and provide them with a bed, meals, guidance, and support. Host families can be two-parent households with small children, teenagers, or no children at home; single parents; grandparents; and adults who do not have children. Families receive the support of AFS staff and volunteers.
AFS-USA is a nonprofit organization that works toward a more just and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural learning experiences to individuals, families, schools, and communities through a global volunteer partnership. AFS-USA sends more than 1,600 U.S. students to more than 40 countries each year. AFS provides year, semester, and summer programs for high school students, as well as programs for teachers and college-age students seeking community service and professional development experiences.
For more information about AFS programs abroad, or to host an outstanding student or teacher from another country, or to volunteer in your local community with AFS or speak with your local Oak Park-River Forest AFS representative, contact Debbie Heer at 524-0047.