Sunday, October 16, 2011

Host Families: Providing Structure and Support for International Exchange Students

Do you have the type of family that celebrates education, embraces different cultures and looks forward to meeting new challenges? Have you ever thought of becoming a host family for an International Exchange Program? Host families are the glue that hold together the world’s impressive number of international exchange programs, for without host families, not only would these programs not have achieved the amazing success they have, they wouldn’t even be possible. To give you some more information on what to expect as a host family, here we will explain some of the duties and responsibilities required, along with all the benefits this experience will provide to you and your family.

Host Families: What Are the Responsibilities—and Benefits?

There are more than 140 countries that participate in international student exchange programs, and due to this incredible success, host families are always needed and are perhaps the most essential component of the program. In these student exchange programs, young people are given the opportunity to study and live in a foreign country, for durations that range from 4-weeks to an entire school year. This can be an exciting time in a youth’s life, but it can also be a time of great trepidation and anxiety, as the students try to adjust and fit in to a world in which they are entirely unfamiliar. This is where you come in and can be so beneficial to the program and the student, acting as both parent and ambassador. Once your student arrives your family will be the first faces that he or she sees, giving you as parents the opportunity to welcome this new student not only into your country, but into your home as well.

Host families are responsible for providing room and board for exchange students, including meals, which means in the month to 9 months they are in your home, you will become there second family—a type of “home away from home.” This can be a wonderful experience for both the host families and students, as it gives everyone the chance to learn from each other the history, culture, traditions and language of a foreign land. Perhaps even more importantly, the experience will almost certainly help your family gain a new perspective on the world, and will teach your children kindness, tolerance and acceptance.

Host families help provide a sense of normalcy and structure, including the exchange student in normal family activities, including homework help and games. There will also be a countless number of occasions for you to showcase your country to the student, becoming a type of teacher of sorts on your family outings. Additionally, there will be several activities that are sponsored in part by the exchange program—culturally diverse activities that will allow you to meet children from regions throughout the world, including Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East and more.

Finally, host families act as a type of security blanket for exchange students—a place they feel comfortable, despite their geographic distance from home and their inevitable homesickness. Each and every day as a host family will be a rich and rewarding experience, as students will learn something new from you every day, just as you and your family will also become learners about their country and customs.


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Amazing_Craft said...

Once your application is approved, you will typically have the opportunity to review student profiles with a program staff member, and from the information in those files you’ll be matched up with a student whose interests are very similar to your family’s interests.


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