Iraqi teens need host families for July visit

Can you spare a little room for an Iraqi teenager?

A group of teens – one or two girls and seven boys, all ages 15 to 17 – are visiting Charlotte next month, just in time for the Fourth of July.

Lara Printz, senior program manager for International House, is putting together the visit July 3-17 for the teens, two Iraqi adults and a member of the Washington-based group that arranged the visit, World Learning.

The students, who were picked by the U.S. State Department, will spend their two weeks in Charlotte on a busy list of educational, cultural and charitable activities – from meeting students at UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte to a visit to Lowe's Motor Speedway (and Concord Mills, of course).

But what Printz really needs are host families who will let visiting students or adults stay with them. She has several homes lined up but needs nine more – and she needs them by the end of today.

Hosts need to be “people who want to be ambassadors,” Printz said. “To show them real family life here in a positive way.”

Families with teens are ideal, but that isn't necessary. And while the visitors come from a mix of Muslim and Christian backgrounds, there are no dietary restrictions. Host families must provide breakfast and dinner and transportation to and from International House in the morning and evening.

The students will be busy every day during the week, but they can spend more time in their host homes on the weekends.

The visit is part of a larger trip that will include a week in Washington, a visit to Kalamazoo, Mich., and finally end with a summer camp in Vermont that will combine U.S. and Iraqi teens in an intercultural exchange.

Says Printz: “I hope they will have a real connection with real Americans – and vice versa.”