If you’re looking for a way to make a positive impact on a young person’s life, or a way to experience a new culture without leaving home, you may have asked yourself: should I host a foreign exchange student? Many of our host families would answer this with a resounding yes!
Hosting a foreign exchange student is an enriching and rewarding experience. That’s what keeps so many of our host families eager to welcome their next exchange student into their household. Some of our incredible veteran host families at Ayusa have hosted dozens of foreign exchange students throughout the years. In fact, the Coutu family has hosted 46 so far — and still counting!
Whether you’re considering hosting your first exchange student or your 47th, the experiences your family can share with these young people will have profound impacts on your lives. There are many reasons to host an exchange student, like the learning opportunities and the lasting relationships.
Wondering if your family should host a foreign exchange student? Experienced host families say yes. Read on to find out why families like the Coutus keep welcoming more foreign exchange students into their lives, and what these incredible young people can add to yours.
Meet Our Foreign Exchange Students
Hosting a foreign exchange student can be a meaningful and affirming experience. Before we get into what these young people can add to your life, let’s start by introducing them. So, who are Ayusa’s exchange students?
Our exchange students are future world changers, global leaders, and innovative thinkers. They’re enhancing their education by pursuing a unique learning experience through cultural immersion and worldwide networking opportunities.
This means not just anyone is eligible to participate in a foreign exchange program. To become part of one of these programs, our students must meet three key requirements:
- Strength of character: We look for students that demonstrate strong strength of character.
- Language proficiency: Students must achieve a high score on an English language proficiency exam. We use an assessment called the ELTiS to evaluate language proficiency, and require that students earn a score of at least 212 to be eligible.
- Health Assessment: To travel abroad in an exchange program, students must be up to date on all required immunizations.
When you meet our students, you'll immediately notice that their character shines. Personality traits and dispositions are one of the most essential elements we look for in successful exchange students. The students who participate in our foreign exchange programs are:
- Open minded
- Leaders with integrity
- High academic performers
- Mature thinkers
- Well rounded
Students who achieve at high levels, work hard, and show leadership qualities have an enormous number of opportunities in front of them. It’s no coincidence that so many of these top tier students choose to participate in a foreign exchange program. These programs create irreplaceable experiences for students from around the world.
Foreign exchange students have the chance to gain an international perspective, make connections that span the world, and cultivate intercultural awareness. They’re also constantly immersed in opportunities to master a new language by living in the United States.
Participating in a foreign exchange program has many lifelong benefits for students. By hosting a foreign exchange student, you can become a part of this definitional experience for them.
What Is Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student Like?
Before committing to hosting a student from overseas in your home, you may be wondering: What is it like to host a foreign exchange student? Welcoming these young people into your home is an amazing experience that can change and enrich your life in unexpected ways.
Hosting an exchange student means that they live with your family for a period of five to ten months. That means your home is the place where they:
- Sleep and eat
- Make new friendships
- Relax and study
- Make new memories
Many of our experienced host families have said that hosting an exchange student is like adding a new family member to your household. During the duration of their program, your exchange student will become a comfortable part of your routines and daily life.
Of course, welcoming a foreign exchange student also means helping to take care of them as part of your family. Think about the basic needs you’d need to meet for teenage children of your own. Host families need to provide their exchange student with three healthy meals a day and a safe place to sleep.
Before deciding to host a foreign exchange student, it’s important to ensure you’ll be able to meet these needs, and one of the biggest ones to consider is transportation. Your exchange student needs a reliable way to get to and from school on time each day. That might mean:
- You or a family member drives them
- A close connection, relative, or friend lends a hand with transportation
- They can access public transportation like a bus or subway where it’s available
Aside from these practical details, the most important part of hosting a foreign exchange student is simply supporting them! Host families strive to make their exchange students feel welcome as they take on this exciting challenge to grow and learn together.
When thinking about what your exchange student may need to feel comfortable, remember that, regardless of where they are from, they are still a young person. Like any teenager, exchange students need the support, love, and compassion of the adults in their lives. Listen to them in an effort to help them learn and grow through their experiences abroad.
If you’re wondering how to host a foreign exchange student or curious what it’s like, it’s important to remember that these students are young adults who are experiencing life in a new country. Hosting them means having the opportunity to be their support network as they learn and grow each day.
Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student Can Change Your Life
For a high school student, the experience of becoming an international exchange student can be life changing. These students have the irreplaceable opportunity to travel around the world, perfecting their language skills and becoming completely immersed in a new culture.
However, foreign exchange programs aren’t only a learning experience for the students. Guiding an international exchange student through their time in the United States can also have a profound impact on the host families that make exchange programs possible.
As your exchange student becomes an integral part of your daily life, you’ll have the opportunity to see the world around you through a fresh perspective. The eye-opening experience of introducing your exchange student to your community, town, and life can add new meaning to even the mundane.
Hosting an exchange student means opening your life to a young person to help them learn about the wider world. Let’s take a look at some of the ways becoming a host family can be transformative for every member of your household.
Experience a New Culture by Hosting an Exchange Student
Foreign exchange students come to the United States with the goal of being immersed in a new culture and learning all about your way of life. However, as they learn your culture, you’ll have the opportunity to learn theirs, too.
Our cultures are an essential part of who we are. Since our Ayusa exchange students come from many countries around the world, they bring many foundational elements of their cultures with them. They share many elements of their culture with their host families, like their traditions, holidays, recipes, and more.
Part of the cultural exchange that takes place during an exchange student’s program is also centered around language. We typically think of this aspect as the exchange student mastering their English, but this exchange can go both ways, too!
While you help your foreign exchange student perfect their English skills, you may be able to pick up some of their language as well. Bilingualism has many incredible benefits, including:
- Increasing cultural awareness
- Allowing you to connect with more people
- Making it easier to travel
- Protecting the brain from aging
- Improving overall brain function
In our interconnected world, mutual understanding is more important than ever before. Hosting an international exchange student allows you to become part of a bridge between cultures in your community by fostering diversity and spreading cultural awareness.
In fact, exchange students have been recognized as a first and essential step towards international collaboration. You can become a part of creating a world united in our diversity by encouraging cultural competence, starting in your own home.
Become a Critical Piece of a Young Person’s Life
Think back to when you were a teenager. Who did you learn from, and who inspired you? How did you change during those formative years? Now, imaging undergoing all those changes thousands of miles from home.
High school-aged exchange students are in massive periods of self-creation and discovery. They thrive when they have a network of supportive adults to help them through this process when they need support. Having a strong support system is absolutely essential to how teenagers develop into healthy, well-adjusted adults.
However, this support system doesn’t only include their parents. In fact, teenagers benefit from having positive, reliable relationships with adults other than their parents. Widening their network to include these non-parental adults can give teens more places to feel comfortable when looking for support, advice, or input for different situations.
As a result, the one-to-one impact you can have on an exchange student can be life changing for them. By supporting them during this essential time of growth and change, you can help the students you host find a sense of purpose and direction. In turn, you aren’t just making a difference in one person’s life — you’re leaving a positive mark on the next generation of world leaders.
Make Lifelong Connections That Span the Globe
During an exchange student’s program, they often develop close bonds with their host family. Many host families and exchange students stay in touch long after their program comes to a close, maintaining tight-knit friendships that circle the world.
For example, the Coutu family stays in touch with the dozens of exchange students they have hosted using social media. The Estes family loves catching up with their exchange students from previous years, and has even had the chance to visit some of them in Europe.
Many host families find that their exchange students become like their adoptive children, just as the students come to view their hosts as a second family. By adding this new member to their family, they’ve gained another person to love. Then, even when an exchange student’s program year ends, they never truly say goodbye. Instead, they extend their family to reach around the world.
How Ayusa Supports Host Families and Exchange Students
There are countless benefits to becoming a host family for students in a cultural exchange program. Hosting one of these international exchange students may seem like a big leap to take at first, but partnering with Ayusa means you’ll never be on your own during your time as a host.
Our team at Ayusa is dedicated to ensuring that host families and exchange students are both completely supported through the entire program duration. We’re passionate about the amazing experiences that cultural exchange programs create, and we strive to make every exchange placement a resounding success.
We have more than 30 years of expertise in both inbound and outbound international exchange programs. This experience allows us to start each exchange program strong by carefully working to match students and host families that will be the right fit for each other.
As an Ayusa host family, you’ll work closely with a Community Representative throughout the length of your exchange student’s program. Our Community Representatives serve as local coordinators for exchange programs. They create the spirit of collaboration and growth that becomes central to every cultural exchange community.
Our Community Representatives take the lead in ensuring that every exchange program progresses smoothly and is full of opportunities for mutual learning and growth. They stay in close communication with every host family to provide constant support and help to enrich the exchange experience.
Our team strives to mentor and guide host families and students alike through the entire length of their exchange program. We believe in the power of foreign exchange programs as a tool for fostering international understanding. That’s why we aim to support our students and host families as they forge lifelong friendships, bonds that transcend borders, and irreplaceable memories.
How Can I Start Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student?
Becoming a host family with Ayusa is a great way to make a lasting impact on a young person’s life. It’s also a learning opportunity, an enriching experience, and an affordable way to broaden your worldview without leaving home. So, how can you get started as a host for an exchange student?
The first step is to request more information from our team so we can fill you in on the details of foreign exchange programs, and put you in touch with your local Community Representative. We’ll help you complete your application to become a host family, and answer any questions you have. We’ll even introduce you to the network of other exchange students and host families in your area as you get ready for this exciting new chapter.
Many people are unsure if they are eligible to become a host for an exchange student. You may be wondering about situations like:
- Can a single person host a foreign exchange student?
- Can I host an exchange student if I’m an empty nester?
- Can a family with younger kids host a high school exchange student?
The answer to all of these situations is a resounding yes! There are no exchange student host family rules about what your household should look like. That’s why there is no “typical” Ayusa host family.
Our network of host families is spread around the country, living on farms and in cities, near the beach and in the mountains, with multiple kids at home or none. The only requirement is a desire to love, support, and guide an exchange student through their program. As long as you’re ready to welcome an exchange student into your life, we’d love for you to apply.
Once your application to start hosting is approved, the Ayusa team will help you find an exchange student that will be the right fit for your household. And — that’s it! We aim to make the process of becoming a host for a foreign exchange student as easy as possible.
Make a Lasting Impact by Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student
Hosting an exchange student creates a meaningful, immersive cultural exchange opportunity. It helps to foster international understanding, forge worldwide connections, and boost cultural competence. It puts you at the center of a program that can enrich the lives of everyone involved.
So, you may have wondered: should I host a foreign exchange student? Our host families at Ayusa say yes, and it’s easy to see why. Becoming a host for an exchange student is an incredible way to make an impact on a young person’s life, to learn about the world, to gain a new family member, and more.
Ready to start making a difference by hosting a foreign exchange student? Request more information or apply to start hosting today. Somewhere in the world, there’s an international exchange student eagerly awaiting to join your family. Take the first steps to welcoming them into your life today.