Flexibility: Medium

Social Engagement: High

What’s What:  Do you have an extra room in your house? Do you want to make a difference in a young person’s life? Do you want to learn about another culture? If so, think about hosting an exchange student!

Amava Take:  Whether or not you have kids at home, if you have a spare room in your house, consider hosting an exchange student! You can share your home with a student and learn about the culture and values of their home country. Hosting an international student means more than providing a bed and meals. Host families share their lives and develop what for many is a lifelong bond with the student they host. There are options to host a student for a summer, a semester or a full school year. For those who love travel and learning about new cultures, you can host a student have a life-changing experience in your own home!

From the Front Lines:

What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these jobs?

Friendly people who enjoy mentoring, have room in their house, and can provide room and board for a student from another country.

Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?

Spend a lot of time getting to know your student right when he or she arrives. Also, be clear about your expectations about helping around the house, spending time with your family, having friends over etc.

What’s a typical schedule like?

Students go to school during the year and participate in the same types of activities that a local student would do. When the student is home, you’ve got another family member to participate in your family’s daily activities and chores, bond with your family, and join in family conversations.

From the Trenches:

What’s the most satisfying part of the experience?

Becoming close to my host student–we feel like we have another child and that her family is now a part of our extended family.

How would you describe the hard parts?

The hardest thing was trying to help my student deal with being homesick.  

What’s different about high school compared to “back in the day”?

Students today spend a lot more time doing homework and structured school activities such as sports, and less time going out and having fun with friends.

Special Requirements: Generally all types of families are eligible! Families don’t have to have teenage children at home–hosts can be empty nesters with adult children, or couples with no children. Single adults and single parents are also welcome. Each program has different requirements. Students usually need their own room but can share a bath. The host family is typically responsible for providing food for their student, but is not expected to pay for other expenses such as medical expenses or spending money.

Finding a Position: There are many organizations that have these programs. One of the biggest and most well-known that places students across the world is AFS. Go to AFS for more information and to fill out an application. Also, for those who want to get involved but aren’t able to host a student, there are other ways to volunteer with AFS. Other non-profit organizations where you can host students include International Student Exchange and Youth for Understanding.