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New foreign-exchange program comes to Bemidji

BEMIDJI — A new foreign-exchange program is branching into the region.

Having hired Jeff Mitchell as its local coordinator, CCI Greenheart is expanding into the Bemidji area.

The program aims to place students in host families for the school year, though it also has a shorter summer program as well. Mitchell said he hopes to place between three and five foreign-exchange students a year.

“I’ve been around foreign-exchange students at the high school and have had friends (host students),” said Mitchell, who is an assistant varsity boys soccer coach for BHS. He got involved with CCI Greenheart after seeing an advertisement and said he’s excited to be working with families and students.

CCI Greenheart, which previously had spanned north beyond Brainerd, is unique in it also blends community service and volunteerism into its programming. Students work on local projects that benefit the community and environment.

“We do quite a bit more in terms of community service and environmental projects,” Mitchell said.

Foreign-exchange students, coming from a range of countries, are between the ages of 15 and 18, speak English and having their own health insurance and spending money.

Host families, living within 120 miles of Bemidji, are asked to provide for the students a room, which can be shared; meals; and a caring environment.

Mitchell said students would be placed in high schools that best meet the student’s and family’s needs. For example, if a family lives near Bagley, the student would probably attend Bagley High School. If the family already has a high-schooler at TrekNorth, the student would likely attend that school along with the local teen.

He said Bemidji High School, which has 12 spots for foreign-exchange students, is a good place for such students because of the wide range of activities the school sponsors, from sports to music and band to an environmental club and outdoor club.

To learn more about hosting an exchange student, contact Mitchell at 766-8854 or visit the website at