June 12, 2023
Activities and Tips

Your Complete Guide to Hosting a High School Exchange Student [Tips & Ideas]

Host parents helping their foreign exchange student study

There’s no denying that becoming a host family for foreign exchange students is a rewarding experience. You’ll expand your family, broaden your cultural awareness, and deepen your connection to your community by becoming a host. But how do you get started? 

Ayusa has helped thousands of families successfully host high school exchange students across the United States. It’s our mission to connect driven high school students to caring families who are excited to enrich a student’s life. In this guide, we’ll explore how you can host high school exchange students by covering:

  • What you need to know before you become a host family
  • How to make the most of your exchange student’s visit
  • Tips on how to become the best host family

Expand your community through a high school exchange experience with Ayusa. We can help you connect with high school students around the world and make a positive impact. Let’s delve into what you need to know before becoming a host.

Before Becoming a Host Family for High School Exchange Students

There are plenty of great reasons to become a host family to a high school exchange student. From learning about different cultures to getting more involved in your community, becoming a host family for foreign exchange students is a formative experience. However, it’s important to understand the role you’re signing up for. 

To be an international exchange student host family you must meet specific requirements and provide appropriate care. Complying with the necessary requirements is the very first step in becoming a host family for foreign exchange students. Knowing about the type of study abroad program you want to work with is the next step. In this section, we’ll discuss how to:

  • Do your research
  • Connect with resources in your community
  • Work with Ayusa

When working towards becoming a host family for exchange students, remember that you’ll be looking after someone who has grown up somewhere very different. Learning about other host parents’ experiences bringing exchange students into their lives is a great way to begin your research.

Do Your Research

Becoming an international student host family is a life-changing experience. To be the best host family for exchange students you need to know what to expect when you open your home to an international teen. A great place to start is by learning about other host families' experiences. You’ll expand your perspective on the responsibility of hosting and better understand the benefits. We recommend reading the following articles about hosting to give you some insight:

  1. Colorado Host Mom Reflects on Experience
  2. Nampa Woman and Family Have Hosted Exchange Students for 35 Years
  3. Host Family and German Exchange Student Find ‘a Perfect Fit’
  4. Love Knows No Bounds for Katy Family

When you feel that you are familiar with other parents’ stories about hosting, the next step is to begin researching the types of study abroad programs available. Discover which programs offer the best hosting opportunities that suit your needs. It’s important to understand what your selected study abroad organization offers students, too. The qualifications of a study abroad organization and its available programs play an important role in the quality of your exchange student’s experience.

Since 1984, Aysua has been a founding member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET). We are approved for listing by CSIET, and have continuously been approved for listing each year since. We also work with Bridge USA to secure J-1 visas for foreign visitors and assist students in preparing for their journey. 

Through Ayusa, students from the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study Program (YES) are able to spend a year studying in America. The program awards scholarships to high school students from countries with Muslim populations so they can serve as ambassadors from their home countries and break down barriers. As you learn more about the options available to you in becoming a host for foreign exchange students, consider the ways a study abroad organization can enrich a student's life and, by extension, your own.

Connect with Resources in Your Community

Another way to put your best foot forward before you host a high school exchange student is to connect with schools in your local community. This is a great way to deepen your research around student exchange programs and what resources are within your current reach for hosting opportunities. 

Learning about your local school’s experience with hosting students can be very informative. By reaching out to your wider local community you can learn about past hosting experiences, existing programs, and ways to help a student get comfortable in your area. You may even find you’re the missing link that can help your local high school partner with the best study abroad programs!

Work with Ayusa

Once you have a clear understanding of the responsibilities hosting entails and the opportunities within your community, connecting with Ayusa is the next step in your journey to host a high school exchange student. We can help you become a host, and give you all the tools you need to positively impact your exchange student’s experience. Start your host application today!

Let Ayusa answer all your FAQs, such as:

Once your application to host is approved, we’ll connect you with a community representative. Throughout your exchange student’s time staying with you, your community representative will provide ongoing support and help foster community-wide international understanding. 

Your community representative will connect you with your student and help them integrate into the community with you. Host family exchange students need help getting settled when they first arrive. It can be a huge adjustment getting to know a new family! Community representatives help make this transition period easier for everyone involved. 

When Your International Exchange Student Arrives

Meeting your exchange student is an exciting time. You’ll quickly come to find that becoming a host family for foreign exchange students is a rewarding experience. In this section, we’ll look at how you can ease your student into their exchange program by:

  1. Introducing them to your community
  2. Taking an interest in their culture
  3. Exposing them to new things

In the first few days of getting to know your international student, it's important to be empathetic and sensitive to their needs. This can be a daunting time for your high school exchange student, so it’s important to help them adjust. Introducing your exchange student to their new community is a proactive way to help break the ice.

Introduce Them to Your Community

A practical way to connect with your student is to involve them in your day-to-day routine. Bring them with you when you run errands, take them to family events, or attend local sports games. To successfully host high school exchange students, introduce them to your established routine as a simple way to help foreign exchange students integrate into their new culture. 

As you do this, your student will become familiar with the community before they enter the classroom. They’ll have a first-hand experience of their newly adopted hometown’s layout, local community hubs, and be exposed to the local culture. This can help your student connect with their peers as they attend the local high school as they’ll feel more connected to the community.

In order to work with the best student exchange programs, host families must bring value to their student's experience. Take the time to show your student the things you do in your community for fun, the way your household operates, and the details that make your community special. You’ll find this will help break the ice and foster curiosity in your exchange student.

Take an Interest in Their Culture

A great way to engage with your foreign exchange student is to take an active interest in their culture. This helps your student overcome homesickness and exposes your family to new perspectives and traditions. Becoming a host for foreign exchange student programs is a great opportunity to learn about different cultures and expand your global awareness. 

Take the time to do activities with your exchange student that celebrate their homeland. From learning their native language to playing their favorite games, there are plenty of ways to show an interest in your exchange student’s culture. Learn about their customs and holidays, and integrate them into your family calendar. Learn to cook their favorite recipes from home and expand your dinner menu to try new flavors and dishes. 

See how YES student, Ayesha, shared her recipe for muttery gosht with her host family, or try Ayusa Student Bhavya’s Gajar Ka Hawa recipe. 

As you get to know your student, learning about the things that make them proud to be from their country and things they miss about it can be a great way to connect. Build a relationship that celebrates diversity, expresses interest, and encourages your student to share their unique background with your family. 

Expose Them to New Things

As an international exchange student host family, it’s important to expose your new family member to things they may not have experienced before. Celebrating your usual holidays and annual events is a great way to share your own culture with your exchange student. 

Finding fun things to do with your exchange student can encompass a variety of different activities. Getting out and exploring places like state or national parks can be a great way to share your state with your exchange student. Or find more local ways to engage in activities with your student, like going to concerts, restaurants, or even hosting a potluck. 

Knowing your student's interests can be a helpful guide for planning your activities. If they’re interested in the outdoors, then plan a fishing trip or hike, or go swimming at your closest beach. If they have more creative interests, take them to see movies, join a crafting class, or teach them one of your own creative hobbies. Encourage your student to come out of their shell. 

Tips for Being the Best Host Family for High School Exchange Students

As you host high school exchange students, you’ll find that you have a powerful impact on your student and their experience in the U.S. Consider yourself part parent and part guide as you expose your student to life in your community! You’ll be there to support, uplift, and engage your student as they study abroad. In this section, we’ll focus on how you can:

  1. Create positive memories
  2. Encourage your student’s goals
  3. Learn from each other

Making the most of your student’s time living abroad is a compelling way to build lasting memories and deepen your connection with your student. Regardless of whether you’re a host family for college exchange students or high school students, creating a positive environment that supports growth is one of the best ways to enrich your student’s life.

Create Positive Memories

Everyday activities have the ability to turn into positive memories for your exchange student. Ensuring that you have an open mind and a willingness to bring value to your student’s experience is an essential part of building a memorable experience. Make the most of your time together as you build a routine that focuses on fun, engagement, and learning.

Start by celebrating everyday achievements. Whether it’s learning a new phrase in English or forming a new friendship at school, develop a habit of encouraging your student’s continuous growth. Being a host family for exchange students means it is your responsibility to positively influence your student’s exchange experience. You’ll quickly discover that the joys of hosting strengthen your family’s values of inclusivity, diversity, and communication. 

There are plenty of great ways to actively create positive memories with your student, including:

  • Going on a family vacation
  • Spending time with friends and extended family
  • Finding fun ways to spend quality time together

Treat your student to activities and events that they wouldn’t ordinarily experience in their home country. Find ways to positively integrate your student’s interests into your plans, and always encourage them to be their best self. 

Encourage Your Student’s Goals

A key part of being a successful host family is creating a home environment that fosters support and encouragement. Your student’s hobbies and interests are a great guide in finding activities they’ll enjoy. Taking an active interest in who your student is and what their interests are is a pivotal way to build their confidence and support their goals. 

Is your student passionate about sports? Technology? The arts? Find activities that nurture their interests and deepen their passion. Take your student to extracurricular activities where they can engage with people their age who share similar interests. Ayusa students grow into young adults ready to leave their mark on the world, and you have the exciting opportunity to help them!

Becoming a host student for foreign exchange students expands your knowledge of subjects that you may not have had exposure to had it not been for your student. Be present in conversations about things that excite them, and encourage them to pursue their interests. Your ability to show up and engage with their passions can be a powerful way to support your student’s dreams to learn and travel.

Learn From Each Other

As you settle into your role as a foreign exchange student host family, you’ll discover you’ve brought an interesting person with a unique perspective of the world into your home! This is a great opportunity to expand your global awareness and impart your own wisdom, too. There is no typical host family that fits every student’s needs. Your family offers a unique perspective that you can share with your student as much as they can share theirs with you. 

Broaden your family’s horizons as you engage in different viewpoints. Build empathy and compassion for others through conversations with your student. Your own children will form sibling bonds with your student and gain a friend for life. Your curiosity about the world could lead you to visit your student in their home country and continue your connection!

As you strengthen your relationship with your student, you’ll find yourself working with a group of people committed to building strong networks in their local communities. Your involvement with Ayusa impacts more than just your foreign exchange student. You’ll learn from people who also host within the program and work with students. Expand your network and let the adventure begin!

Work with Ayusa to Start Hosting High School Exchange Students

Start your journey of becoming a host family for exchange students today! Request more information or learn about host exchange student programs.  

At Ayusa, we are committed to supporting host families in strengthening intercultural awareness. Enhance your global knowledge and connect with us to become a host today!

Sharing cultures and building communities with high school exchange.

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