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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 2:39 pm | Fair 65º


Education First Seeking South Coast Host Families for International Students

The international language school Education First in Santa Barbara, the oldest and largest institution of its kind on the South Coast, is seeking South Coast host families for the summer as well as during its academic year, which starts in September.

EF’s yearly economic impact is more than $8 million to the local economy, school officials said. This comes from host family payouts, students’ spending money on food, clothes, activities and other items, and salaries of the school’s 25 teachers as well as 12 administrative staff.

“EF Santa Barbara embodies our mission to break down barriers of language, culture and geography not only for our students, but for the community as well,” said Fysal Safieh, school director. “We bring the world to Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara to the rest of the world.”

This summer, the EF school welcomes junior students as young as 12. Most of them travel with “school groups” who also have one or two adult leaders. Summer students usually stay two to eight weeks because this usually fits in with their school breaks. In September, EF welcomes its academic year students who stay for three, six or nine months. Some students during that time will stay for just two weeks or longer.

“Every student brings a piece of their home to Santa Barbara and takes a piece of Santa Barbara back home with them,” Safieh said. “We make the world a smaller and more culturally enriched place.”

“We have hosted 20 international students during these past 20 years,” Montecito resident Patty DeDominic said. “Our family has been enriched in many ways, and now we have friends and adult ‘kids’ in every continent. Sharing our city and American culture with young people is an entertaining and educational odyssey we have lived and plan to continue.”

While the average age for EF students is 20, regular academic year students range in age from 16 to 72. Host families, who are paid a stipend, provide breakfast and dinner Monday through Friday and breakfast lunch and dinner on the weekends. Each student needs his or her own bed. Students can share a room if they request it. For long-term students, a desk in the room is advisable, but not necessary as long as they have a quiet place to study and do homework.

EF organizes door-to-door service for its students. Host families are not required to pick up or drop off their students at the airports. Students provide their own transportation: 95 percent of EF students take the bus to and from school each day. Families are not required to drive them.

EF operates 42 schools and offices in 54 countries. Its global network includes 35,000 full-time faculty and 16,500 part-time teachers, leaders and tour directors. To date, EF has helped more than 15 million people to learn a new language, discover the world or earn an academic degree.

— Nicole Halverson represents Education First.

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