The Tuncan family of Valencia will host Munkh-Erdene Dashdondov, an AFS Intercultural Programs exchange student from Mongolia, the local California Central Coast Area Team of AFS Intercultural Programs announced Wednesday.
Dashdondov will arrive in the Santa Clarita Valley in August and will attend Valencia High School for the 2019-20 academic year.
His exchange in the Santa Clarita Valley will be sponsored by the U.S. Department of State through the highly competitive Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) merit-based scholarship program.
“We are so excited to be Munkh-Erdene’s American family for his life-changing 10-month exchange program,” said host mother Tori Tuncan. “Because his hometown of Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital city in the world, and since Mongolia is a landlocked country, we look forward to introducing him to our hot Santa Clarita summers and taking him for a dip in the Pacific Ocean! Also, because he is interested in art and practices classical Mongolian calligraphy, we think he might want to join the art club at school.”
This will be the Tuncan family’s fourth time hosting with AFS. They also hosted Maria from Italy in 2017, Kirill from Latvia in 2018, and are currently hosting Michelle from South Africa. Tori was an AFS student in high school, spending a summer in Brazil and then a “gap year” in Turkey.
Daughter Justine, who will be a senior at Valencia High School in the fall, spent one month at the University of California San Diego with an AFS Global Prep program in summer 2017 and then, in summer 2018, lived with a host family for two weeks in Ghana, West Africa, also on an AFS Global Prep program.
Son Kaya, currently in eighth grade at Rio Norte Junior High and entering Valencia High School in the fall, participated in AFS’ Global Prep program in Spain last summer. Both Tori and Justine are registered AFS volunteers.
“Host siblings Justine and Kaya can’t wait to meet their new brother,” said Sarah Freifeld, a Valencia resident and AFS volunteer. “They know the positive impact that hosting an exchange student has on families and want to continue making these personal connections with people around the globe.”
Volunteers with the AFS California Central Coast Area Team are actively seeking additional interested host families throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, as well as in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
AFS host families are not paid. They are expected to provide a bed and meals, share their daily lives with students, and guide students as a member of their own family.
All types of families are encouraged to apply to host; there is no “typical” AFS host family. Families can have small or teenage children at home, be empty nesters with adult children, or be couples with no children. Single adults, single parents, and LGBTQ+ couples are welcome.
Answers to frequently asked questions about hosting can be found on the AFS-USA website at https://www.afsusa.org/host-family/faq/.
Interested families can call regional AFS staff at 805-750-1824 or complete a brief interest form at https://www.afsusa.org/host-family/get-started/ to be contacted by a local volunteer.
AFS volunteers also can be reached through Facebook at www.facebook.com/AFSCCCTeam.
Expressing an interest in hosting or completing a host family application does not obligate one to host.
AFS-USA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has been a leader in high school exchange for more than 70 years.