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Number of certified host families in Taiwan exceeds 1,000

Taipei, Dec. 22 (CNA) More than 1,000 families in Taiwan have been certified to host international students to date, Education Minister Wu Ching-ji said Thursday, encouraging more families to join the ministry's efforts to make international students' stay more memorable.

Since the government launched a host family program two years ago, it has trained and certified 1,162 host families, which have accommodated 327 international students during their stays in Taiwan, Wu said at a press conference to announce the achievements of the program.

"The program aims to help international students feel more at home in Taiwan," said the minister, adding that it has helped around 80 local schools provide host family services.

Maria Neuhuass, who came to Taiwan to learn Chinese, said her host family has taken her to many places, including the filming location of the Taiwanese film "Seediq Bale." This has helped her learn more about local culture, she said.

"But what I enjoyed the most was having meals with the family, chatting and telling jokes to make each other laugh," said the 23-year-old German, who arrived in Taiwan in September.

Sun Yu-chien, one of the hosts, said her family enrolled in the program because she wanted to make international students feel at home in Taiwan, as her own daughters have been treated warmly by host families when they were abroad.

"I have learned a lot from these young people, and have come to see them as my own children," said Sun, whose family has hosted students from Thailand, the United States, Japan and Vietnam.

The Friendly Taiwan-Host Family Plan for International Students Program is part of the Taiwanese government's efforts to promote Taiwanese culture and language and boost its international image.

The number of international and exchange students in Taiwan reached 33,948 in 2010. (By Christie Chen) ENDITEM/npw

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