Redditch family urges others to break down cultural barriers

Redditch Advertiser: Happy family: Student Miriana (from Italy), Michelle Baylis, Steve Baylis, and student Nanna (from Denmark). Happy family: Student Miriana (from Italy), Michelle Baylis, Steve Baylis, and student Nanna (from Denmark).

WHILE a new survey claims Britons are becoming more racist, a family from Redditch is urging others to help break down cultural barriers by welcoming a foreign student into their homes.

A poll on British social attitudes by the independent organisation NatCen Social Research found 30 per cent of Britons describe themselves as either "very" or "a little" prejudiced against people of other races.

Steve and Michelle Baylis, and their daughter Bryony, have been hosting long-term students for 11 years, most recently for foreign exchange business MyEducation (UK).

The family, currently caring for two girls from Denmark and Italy, say it is a very rewarding experience.

Mr Baylis, a charity business consultant, said: "I think it's easy to have preconceptions about people from different countries and cultures. But taking a youngster into your family gives them an invaluable life experience and widens your own horizons too.

"The students become part of your family, from sitting around the dinner table with you and going off to school each day, to holidaying with you and spending time with your wider family and friends."

Mr Baylis, who has also hosted youngsters from as far and wide as New Zealand, America and Japan, added: "You are their parents for 10 months. We regard them as our daughters, and it is a very rewarding experience."

Nicky Butler, from MyEducation, said: “As a host family with MyEducation (UK), families like the Baylis's make a huge difference to a youngster's language, learning and life experience, while increasing their own knowledge of the world. It's a win-win situation."

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