Montana 4-H seeks families to host Japanese youth and chaperones

Montana State University Extension is seeking host families for 25 Japanese youth and two adult chaperones from July 22 - Aug. 17. The youth and their chaperones are part of an international exchange program with the Labo Language and Cultural Institute and with LEX, or Language Experience, Experiment and Exchange.

Host families can be located anywhere in Montana and should have a child at home who is between the ages of 9 and 18. Families hosting chaperones do not need to have children in the home or may have children of any age.

The Japanese youth will know some English, but are not fluent. The purpose of the program is for both the family and their guest to enjoy cultural immersion while learning from one another, according to Stephanie Davison, citizenship, sustainable communities and international programs coordinator with MSU Extension and Montana 4-H.

“In general, the youth who come to Montana as part of this exchange are 12-16 years old, though they may be slightly younger or older,” Davison said. “Their families usually start saving for an exchange trip when the children are quite young. The students study English in school, but are not yet fluent. These parents want their children to have the opportunity to be immersed in American culture and language to help them learn.”

Davison said that the American host families also benefit from the program.

“When we have asked host families about the best part of their experience as hosts, most have a similar reaction,” Davison said. “They cite examples such as learning about another culture while having fun; bonding with someone from another country; experiencing our own culture from a different perspective; and simply seeing the guest student smiling and having fun.”

The MSU exchange program is organized by Montana 4-H, the youth development program of MSU Extension, and has been active in Montana since 1972.

The application deadline for host families is May 15. To apply, go to or contact Stephanie Davison at 406-994-3502 or