Billets needed for Japanese visitors

If you’ve got a spare room in your family home, Richa Thorpe wants to hear from you.

If you’ve got a spare room in your family home, Richa Thorpe wants to hear from you.

For the second year, Thorpe is trying to find homestay billets for a group of Japanese boys from a Tokyo high school, who will be visiting Penticton in late July. While Thorpe only started last year, the school has been sending groups to the Okanagan for six years.

“They have the option to go anywhere in the world on these trips, but they love the Okanagan so much that their teachers want to bring them back here,” said Thorpe. “The people and just the community of Penticton are so much better to experience and learn English that they choose to come back here.”

Thorpe wasn’t sure there was going to be a group this year, considering the recent earthquake and accompanying devastation in Japan but she recently confirmed that 24 boys from the school are coming.

“They are arriving on July 26 and they are staying until August 6,” said Thorpe. “Usually they stay two weekends, but this year they are staying for the one long weekend.”

Much of the student’s itinerary is already planned. They will attend English every day from nine until noon and then in the afternoon, engage in cultural activities and explorations, like a walking tour of Penticton, riding the KVR steam train or floating down the channel.

In addition to providing a room, the host family is also part of the experience for the boys. An honorarium is provided to help with food costs – in addition to breakfast and dinner, the boys will need to pack a lunch to take to school.

“They don’t have to spend a lot of money and take them out to do stuff. We’ll do stuff with them, but if you are going fishing, take the kid fishing,” said Thorpe. “We just want the kids to experience Canadian culture and Canadian family life, whatever that may be.”

Last year, the boys engaged in a variety of activities, from camping and boating to horseback riding; just accompanying their host family on their regular activities.

“We’ll cover the cultural component of it. You just need to be willing to take them to the movies, take them mini-golfing, or take them to the beach, whatever you are doing,” Thorpe said.

Some host families who participated last year have already signed up again, but Thorpe said she still needs about 16 families to volunteer.

“Any family that has a spare room that wants to participate in opening their houses and their hearts to these boys. These boys are high school age, so they are anywhere from 15 to 17 years old,” she said.

“We are looking for couples, families with a spare room that is willing to participate in the cultural program.”

For more information, contact Richa Thorpe at 250-492-0649 or at