Exchange students meet host families at Spokane International

Exchange students meet host families at Spokane International

In the midst of the crowded airport friends and family greeted each other with smiles and hugs, many for the first time.

Simen Smaariset is a 17-year-old from Norway.

“I want to discover a new culture, try a new way of living,” said Smaariset.

He is one of the many foreign students traveling to Spokane to live for an entire school year.

Lori Larsen has welcomed foreign students into her home since 2012.

“Really what they are looking for is that experience of an American family. Now that we’ve hosted a few times we do a pretty good job of that, our student gets a chore,” said Larsen.

She said the experience has been life changing for her family of seven.

“Mostly because we live out in Chewelah and it’s rural and it’s not a great recipe for diversity and exposure for our own children,” said Larsen.

Larsen’s two oldest children were able to go to Germany for an entire month this summer to stay with a former student, who they call their German brother. Something she never knew she would be able to do for her kids.

“They came home from the experience knowing that they can go anywhere and do anything and it was only possible because we have life long friends and family in that foreign country,” said Larsen.

The U.S. State Department encourages the program.

“The state department sees this program as a part of public diplomacy, in other words by exposing foreign students to the American way of life, the idea is that the idea of the united states would improve,” said Larsen.

These students will be attending high school in communities all throughout the Inland Northwest, something everyone of them is excited for.

“I’m looking forward to learning better English and meeting new friends,” said Smaariset.

For more information on the program visit