There are many private and U.S. government-sponsored international exchange programs that bring international exchange students to the USA to experience life in America. Students are eager to learn about American culture and give back to their country, sharing their newfound knowledge of America and Americans. Americans can take part in these exciting programs and contribute to our public diplomacy efforts by hosting an international exchange student. Hosting is an extremely rewarding experience for all members of the family and the community. Want to learn more? Please read on.
Who can be a host family?
Host families are as different and diverse as Americans themselves. They come from all ethnic, racial, economic, and religious backgrounds. They live in cities, small towns, and rural communities. You don’t need to have teenagers to host. In fact, any two people related by blood or marriage can be a host family—whether you have young children, adult children, or no children at all. If yours is a non-traditional household interested in sharing your home with an exchange student from overseas, exchange organizations will generally consider your application to host following special selection procedures.
How will our family benefit by hosting an international exchange student?
Hosting an exchange student is a rewarding experience for your whole family. You’ll learn about another culture and language— without leaving home. You’ll start a life-long relationship with your new exchange student and when your student returns home you’ll have a special friend in another country. Members of your family will feel closer to each other through sharing your daily lives with an exchange student. If you have children, they’ll gain a broader perspective on the world, learning more about geography, communication and international cultures. If your children are young, they’ll probably love having an exchange student from another country. You will be a citizen diplomat, by creating positive impressions about America and Americans, breaking stereotypes and fostering mutual understanding and respect.
What are our responsibilities as host parents?
Host families are not asked to become legal guardians for the exchange students. This responsibility rests with the program on which the student comes. All that is asked of host families is to care for the students as they would their own children. This means that the families are expected to provide a clean living environment, good nourishment and love. The students will provide their own spending money for expenses incurred outside of the home as well as medical and accident insurance coverage. Host families must provide a willingness to open their home and heart to an exchange student; a separate bed and a quiet place to study; daily meals with the family; some local transportation; and open communication, encouragement and sound advice.
What is expected of exchange students?
Students are expected to be a responsible and caring member of the family; to attend school regularly and show consistent effort; to share his/her culture and customs with hosts and their community; to participate fully in family and school life; and to have open communication and a commitment to the program.
Will our exchange student speak English?
All international students who come to the U.S. on government-sponsored programs and most private programs have studied spoken and written English. Most of them have studied our language for five years or more. Undoubtedly, you will find that your student’s English ability will improve remarkably during your month together—something host families often find both exciting and gratifying.
How much does it cost to host an exchange student?
There is no charge. We pay you a stipend to cover most cost. The only expenses for your family will be the costs of including another person in your regular activities. You will be eligible for a $50 per month federal tax deduction for hosting an international exchange student.
What do exchange students do during the day?
All students in our program will attend English classes during the day and afternoon activities thereafter.
Would we be responsible for our student’s medical bills or spending money?
No. International exchange students have their own medical insurance. Students bring their own spending money. Government-sponsored students receive stipends and/or allowances to cover their expenses.
My spouse and I both work, and wouldn’t be home to entertain the student. Wouldn’t this be a problem?
Today, in most of two-parent families, both parents work. This is representative of the diversity of America. Host families are not responsible for entertaining the students; but instead for sharing an exchange of ideas, lifestyles, and love with a child from another culture. With the participation in class, students quickly develop a circle of friends and should not be dependent on the family for entertainment.
Can we host more than one student?
Yes. In cases where an exception is made, the two students must be from different countries and speak different native languages.
Do host families get paid to host an exchange student?
Yes. Families receive a small stipend to cover most costs. However, most families host because they want to open their home to someone from another culture and thus get to know the world a little bit better.
How will our family be selected to host an exchange student?
Many factors are taken into account when placing a participant with a host family. Organizations do their best to match host family members’ interests to the students’ interests, taking into account the host families input. It is impossible to find the “perfect” placement but organizations do look for common interests and values between the family and the participant that will help the two establish bonds more quickly.
- Host families are selected on the basis of criteria appropriate to the program.
- Prospective host families must be personally interviewed in their home.
- References are generally required.
- Students and host families are matched on the basis of criteria appropriate to the program.
- Host families are provided with a handbook to help prepare them for the hosting experience.
My family wants to host! What is the next step?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or return back to the “hosting Opportunities” page and download all the necessary forms for hosting consideration. Once you have filled out the forms and acquired the necessary documents, you’ll need to mail them to us via postal mail. Once we receive them you’ll be notified within 48 hours and to start your family on a cultural journey that they’ll remember for a lifetime.
Wynton’s World: P.O. Box 1702 * Cary, NC * 27512-1702 * USA