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 a young person 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 "son" or "daughter," 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 a big brother or sister 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; programs provide full medical and accident insurance coverage for each student. 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, and international students from a number of countries must pass an English proficiency test before being accepted onto the program. Undoubtedly, you will find that your student’s English ability will improve remarkably during your months together—something host families often find both exciting and gratifying.
How much does it cost to host an exchange student?
There is no charge. The only expenses for your family will be the costs of including another person in your regular activities, including three meals a day. 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 on academic programs attend the local high school nearest their families on a full-time basis and will take courses typical of an American his or her age.
Would we be responsible for our student’s medical bills or spending money?
No. International exchange students have their own medical insurance or are covered by the sponsoring program’s 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 local high schools, students quickly develop a circle of friends and should not be dependent on the family for entertainment.
Can we host more than one student?
Governmental regulations under which youth exchange programs operate preclude a family from hosting more than one exchange student at a time unless a compelling reason is presented. 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?
In most cases, no. 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?
The selection process may vary depending on the exchange organization with which the student is associated. In all cases, 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.
The hosting application process may vary slightly among organizations; however, there are standards that all CSIET approved organization must follow:
• Host families are selected on the basis of criteria appropriate to the exchange 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 an orientation to help prepare them for the hosting experience.
My family wants to host! What is the next step?