20 Exchange Students Need Homes, and Fast

Twenty Spanish teenagers are scheduled to visit Orange County next month for what they thought was a mini-course of English immersion. Instead, they may get a taste of crisis management.

The first phrase they might need in their Spanish-English handbooks: "Can I crash on your couch?"

The teens have been saving their pesetas for years in hopes of making the trip. But a coordinator for International Journeys, the organization sponsoring the trip, failed to find homes for the group.

Another coordinator, Huntington Beach resident Lee Allton, jumped into the breach and is now frantically searching for families willing to host the teens when they arrive June 27.

"I said, 'Well, I'm well-known in the community, I won't have trouble finding homes,' " she said. "Well, helloooo! It's very difficult. . . . It's getting desperate. Spain is screaming like crazy. [The students] want to know who their 'parents' are."

Allton had decided to host an exchange student from France last year when she realized her children were limited in their knowledge of foreign cultures.

"If it wasn't Burger King, forget it," she said. "I thought bringing an exchange student in for a year would be a start. . . . She was a beautiful girl. We still miss her."

The Spanish students will be in Orange County for one month, said Donna Carper, a coordinator for International Journeys. The students will have their own spending money and will be busy most days with group excursions and English classes.

"These are just kids who want to come here to America," Carper said. "They're real excited, and if they don't have a home, they can't come."

Anyone with a bed to spare should call Allton at (714) 892-7220 or Carper at (714) 892-5492.

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