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Participants in the T.E.A. program enjoy Homecoming festivities at Appalachian State University in 2012. Another cohort of visiting teachers will arrive on campus this fall. Photo courtesy of ASU.

Originally published: 2013-05-31 13:43:29
Last modified: 2013-05-31 13:46:57

Hosts needed in October for visiting teachers

Appalachian State University's Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program is seeking hosts to open their homes to one of 22 teachers from across the globe for a homestay weekend in October.

The T.E.A. Program brings highly select English-as-a-foreign-language teachers to ASU for a six-week seminar that includes coursework, community service, internships in local classrooms and cultural exchange opportunities.

A highlight of the program is the homestay weekend Oct. 25-27, which allows the fellows to experience American culture firsthand with local families.

"They're not expected to do anything outside of the ordinary that they wouldn't normally do or to spend a lot of money but basically just to welcome them to their home and community," said Sarah Bergstedt, director of international outreach for the ASU Office of International Education and Development.

LeeAnn Gregory of Boone said her family hosted Rola Al-Rayashi from Jordan in fall 2012 and said it was a highlight of the year.

Gregory said her daughter, who was 8 years old at the time, learned to write Arabic from their temporary guest.

"It was a great opportunity to expose the kids to other cultures and make it real to them, instead of just something they read about in a book," Gregory said.

Christie Arney of Lenoir and her husband, Allen Miller, spent their weekend with Sufia Khatun of Bangladesh.

Arney said their guest's only requests were to see an apple orchard and to see snow for the first time. Khatun had both wishes fulfilled after an Oct. 31 storm sprinkled snow on the area.

The family also spent plenty of time in conversation with Khatun, learning about her culture, her school and her family.

"We learned so much, and it was things that you don't even know to ask," Arney said.

The T.E.A. program, now in its third year at ASU, is a grant-funded initiative from the U.S. Department of State. Appalachian State University is one of four universities nationwide to host the program.

Each exchange begins with several days of orientation in Washington, D.C, before the teachers arrive on campus. While at ASU, they take classes in teaching, technology and other subjects and also intern for 10 days at high schools in Ashe, Watauga, Burke, Caldwell and Wilkes counties, Bergstedt said.

The aim is to strengthen their skills and knowledge for teaching English and to share that information with peers when they return home.

The teachers won't be selected until June, but they typically come from more than 15 countries, Bergstedt said.

"For a lot of them, it's the first time that they've ever been outside their country or that they will ever be able to," Bergstedt said.

For more information about the T.E.A. program or to apply to become a homestay host, call the Office of International Education and Development at (828) 262-8046, email or visit