An opportunity to expand culturally

Raissa Tetanish
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AMHERST - The Kerr family is soon taking advantage of an opportunity that may not come again.

Jim and Gwen, along with their nine-year-old daughter Annika, will be a host family to two Canada World Youth participants for three months.

"There seem to be a couple of huge advantages by being hosts," said Jim.

"First, we think the cultural exchange will rub off on our daughter."

Jim said Annika is aware of other cultures but both him and Gwen say this will be a chance for her to absorb some of that culture.

"I think it's very important that she understand the Muslim culture. There are unique eating habits the Indonesian participant will have, and even forbidden foods, and I want Annika to become aware of other cultural habits."

"Plus, it's like two big sisters are coming," added Gwen, noting that Annika is an only child.

On the other hand, the Kerrs are looking forward to attending more community events both here and across the border in Sackville.

"It's going to give us a chance to re-explore the area and seeing it with a fresh eye," said Gwen.

In the almost four years since moving to Amherst, Jim says the family hasn't done as much traveling as they had wanted to and this is a great opportunity to do just that.

"High on our list is Joggins. They close at the end of October, so we're hoping the weather is nice one of those first Sundays so we can take them to Joggins," Jim said, adding they would like to go along the Fundy Shore at the same time.

"It's still amazing to me, no matter how many times I've been through there."

With nine participants from Canada and another nine from Indonesia embarking on this journey at the end of the month, only four host families have been found so far. Each family would be host to two participants - one from each country. Both would be the same gender, so only one room with two beds would be needed.

"If anyone is interested in being a host family, they should definitely talk to Jenelle Plasko, the project co-ordinator," said Gwen.

"Even if a family already has planned a weekend getaway during the time the participants would be with them, she has other families lined up for short periods of time."

"Something like going away should not discourage any families that are thinking about this," added Jim.

Gwen said all 18 participants are ones that are excited to travel and that are looking forward to the experience.

"For some of even the Canadian participants, they may not have been to the Atlantic Provinces before, and others may never have been in a small town. We're hoping to show them how vibrant and exciting a small town can be," she said.

The participants arrive Oct. 1, with a meet and greet open to the public at town hall beginning at 4:30. They will become a part of the community until leaving for Indonesia on Dec. 16.

For more information on becoming a host family, contact project co-ordinator Jenelle Plasko at (902) 669-1579.

Geographic location: AMHERST, Joggins, Indonesia Sackville Canada Atlantic Provinces

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