People Link -- Creating a Global Neihborhood

Host An International Exchange Student in Your Home!

 The families that participate in a homestay program are special. They represent the part of our population that is curious, kindhearted, responsible and not afraid of new experiences. The host family plays a major role in the success of the homestay experience. It is through the family that the visitor learns the greatest amount of culture and language.

Questions About Being A Host Family

What is a Homestay?
Who can be a Host Family?
What are the responsibilities of a host family?
How do the families benefit from the hosting experience?
Are they paid?

Some typical concerns about being a host family

 

What is a Homestay?
Simply put, a homestay is when a foreign visitor stays with a host family. An educational homestay program is designed to allow the foreign visitor and the host family to learn and share their language and culture with each other. Volunteer host families open their homes to students. During the short visits (usually two to four weeks), students attend morning classes where they study English as a Second Language and participate in cultural exchanges and activities in the afternoons. One day a week is dedicated to touring the local area. During the academic year program students attend the local high school in their host family's community. Evenings and weekends in all programs are spent with the host family. These types of programs totally immerse the student in a culture and language different from his/her own. Experts estimate that two weeks of living with people whose language is different from one's own is roughly equivalent to six months in the classroom.

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Who can be a Host Family?
A typical host family has the following elements: open hearts and minds, enthusiastic about the concept of cultural exchange, willing to share their homes and lives with a new friend, and interested in the world around them. Families of all sizes and descriptions are welcome. The minimal requirements for a qualified host family are: positive comments from two community references, at least two related persons living in the home, at least one family member with English as their native language, English spoken in the home during the time the student is present.

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What are the responsibilities of a Host Family?
There are four basic responsibilities of the family.

  1. To provide the student with meals
  2. To provide the student with his/her own bed. The visitor may share a room with a host family sibling of the same sex
  3. To provide conversation with the student and allow him/her to participate fully as a family member
  4. To provide transportation to and from the study center, which can include walking, biking, carpooling, or taking public transportation

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How does a family benefit from the hosting experience?
Families benefit from hosting in many ways! It is an educational experience that is fun for all involved, from the baby to Grandpa. The family is able to see their own culture and lives through the eyes of a foreign visitor. They learn about the culture and life of that visitor and can compare the differences and similarities. We have many stories of families who have hosted years ago and their children were so affected by the experience that they began to study foreign languages in school and travel to other countries. Some even went on to study international law and international business. At the least this experience allows the family members to learn about another culture without leaving their living room. Another benefit to the families is that they meet many other families right in their own neighborhood. We frequently see these new relationships blossom into long lasting friendships. It is a wonderful way for a family who is new to the community to very quickly feel at home.

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Does a Host Family receive any payment?
In the United States our families are volunteer host families and are not paid. The concept of "volunteerism" is often a new concept to the foreign students and is one of the aspects of our culture which we can enjoy sharing.

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