Hosting foreign exchange students is an exciting opportunity that boasts many benefits. From bringing diverse perspectives into your local community to deepening your emotional intelligence, many families have already experienced the rewards hosting foreign exchange students can bring—and, now, so can yours!
In this article, we’ll explore the many positive features of becoming a host to international students, including:
- Expanding your family
- Creating a positive impact
- Getting involved in study abroad programs
At Ayusa, we’ve been supporting students around the world in accessing exceptional study abroad programs for over 40 years. We partner caring host families with curious and clever students who are working hard to become impressive global citizens. Discover how you can get involved with Ayusa today, and read on to learn about the many benefits of hosting foreign exchange students.
Expand Your Family By Hosting Foreign Exchange Students
By hosting foreign exchange students you have the unique opportunity to expand your family and learn from individuals who come from rich cultural backgrounds. It’s a rewarding chance to both share your home with someone who is eager to learn about American culture and broaden your family’s global awareness.
In this section, we’ll focus on how hosting foreign exchange students positively impacts your family. We’ll look at the social and cultural elements of hosting that contribute to your student’s experience, including:
- Creating memories
- Learning languages
- Expanding your cultural awareness
- Sharing traditions and cultures
Becoming a host with Ayusa is an enriching experience for the whole family. Grow strong bonds with intelligent and driven students from around the world, and share in the lasting impact that hosting foreign exchange students can create.
Let’s dive into how you can create lifelong memories during your time serving as a host family.
Hosting opens your family up to exciting opportunities to bond and connect. Organize family adventures to help your exchange student get to know your local area, home state, or iconic national destinations. Introduce your foreign exchange student to extended family that live in other states while showcasing the rich and diverse range of places the U.S. has to offer. A trip with your exchange student could include:
- Camping in a State or National Park
- Visiting a landmark or famous city, like New York
- Taking a vacation to a well-known tourist area
- Exploring local hot spots, arts and crafts fairs, and music venues
Remember: the most memorable experiences for foreign exchange students are often in your own town or city! The experience of taking your foreign exchange student to a new place is an immersive way to give them a real taste of life in the U.S. You’ll be able to share aspects of your own childhood and reconnect with your city while helping your student create wonderful memories. It’s an enthralling way to break the ice and show your international student everything your area has to offer.
The magic of hosting foreign exchange students is the culture they bring into your home and the incredible lessons in language exchange. An international student has grown up in a completely different cultural context to yourself and your family, offering a whole new perspective.
Make the most of your time together by learning words and phrases in their language. This can be achieved by something as simple as sharing simple greetings or questions during your dinnertime conversation. Create an exchange of language as you sit around the table together. You’ll quickly come to find that by the end of your time hosting, you’ll have picked up more of their native language than you thought possible.
Share Traditions and Cultures
The holidays are a wonderful time for hosting foreign exchange students. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday, sharing your festive traditions with an international student is a great way to get back to the roots of your celebrations and deepen your connection to them. Perhaps your student has never celebrated Christmas. Imagine how exciting it will be to provide your international student with their first Christmas celebration!
You’ll find that hosting foreign exchange students also encourages you to branch out from your own traditions and learn about other cultural celebrations. Your student will be eager to share their own holidays and traditions with you and your family.
Learn new recipes from your student's culture, dive into the traditions around their favorite holidays, and immerse yourself in the customs that come from your student’s home country. You can even reach out to local community groups and celebrate with a larger gathering of like-minded individuals. From Diwali to independence celebrations, plenty of exciting opportunities exist to expand your cultural awareness of your student’s home country and celebrate it with them.
Benefits of Hosting Foreign Exchange Students
As a host parent, you’ll find that creating a supportive and nurturing home environment is just one small part of hosting foreign exchange students. Your role as a host parent greatly impacts your international student’s personal development, and can be a major contributor to how they tackle challenges and see the world.
In this section, we’ll explore some of the many benefits of hosting foreign exchange students, including:
- Building lifelong connections
- Enhancing your parenting skills
- Broadening your perspective
You’ll find your experience as a host parent is as much of a learning curve for yourself as it is for your student. Discover the wonderful rewards of hosting international students and working with the best study abroad programs. Let’s look at how you’ll build lifelong connections as a host parent.
Build Lifelong Connections
Through hosting foreign exchange students, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other on a deep level. The time you spend with your international student is a valuable opportunity to teach, encourage, and help shape a strong, independent, young person into becoming a successful global citizen.
Your time spent hosting foreign exchange students will help to build your students’ character. Through your tutelage and care, you’ll develop a strong relationship that can last a lifetime. From creating memories on fun family trips to helping them navigate the challenges of living abroad, your time spent together will be an unforgettable experience.
Enhance Your Parenting Skills
By opening your home to students of different cultural backgrounds, your parenting methods and skills will be put to the test. You’ll engage with new challenges, like homesickness and shyness, which can increase your empathy skills and build your understanding of how to relate to a student’s emotional needs.
Hosting foreign exchange students also opens you up to parenting a child who may have greatly different interests and personality traits from that of your own children. You may find that while your own children may be passionate about sports, your foreign exchange student may have a keen interest in science or the arts. This will broaden your perspective on ways to engage with a student and learn about their interests on a deeper level.
Through hosting foreign exchange students, you’ll also be presented with a myriad of opportunities to improve your communication skills. This can come with growing a range of other skills, including:
- Conflict resolution
- Teaching and mentoring
- Providing cultural context
Your time with a foreign exchange student can enable you to become more patient, compassionate, and adaptive to your student's needs. By caring for international students, your parenting abilities will be enhanced through lived experience and unforgettable growth periods.
Broaden Your Perspective
Your time hosting foreign exchange students is the perfect opportunity to expand your worldview and try seeing the world from another person’s perspective. As a host parent to an international student, you’ll be privy to a new lens on how America and other Western countries are perceived. You’ll also be able to learn a great deal from your student’s experience of being raised in a different country.
Learning to actively listen to and engage with a person whose cultural perspective is different from your own is a valuable skill that you will carry with you for life. You’ll be able to see things from other people’s perspectives well after your time hosting foreign exchange students, and be able to put those empathy skills to use in your work and home life forever.
Impact of Hosting Foreign Exchange Students
Throughout your journey to becoming a host parent, you’ll find a wide range of study abroad programs to consider. Ayusa offers student exchange programs that focus on providing opportunities to exemplary students whose academic prowess and enthusiasm to learn are unparalleled.
As a host parent, you’ll be the bridge that brings foreign exchange students into their adopted American communities. You’ll be in charge of their care and provide opportunities for them to engage in the local culture directly. In this section, we’ll explore the types of high school students who make it into Ayusa’s study abroad programs and the power you’ll have to make the most of their time in the U.S.
YES Grants and Hosting Foreign Exchange Students
Ayusa works with the Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program to select exceptional students from over 40 different countries with significant Muslim populations. The traits that define YES students include:
- Demonstrated leaders
- High academic achievers
- A vital part of the future
The program is an opportunity for an exchange student to become an ambassador for their country in the U.S. However, earning a YES grant is no easy feat for foreign exchange students. The program famously had an acceptance rate of just 3% from 2018-19. Scholarships are merit-based and applicants must demonstrate a commitment to the values of the program through prior academic and community achievements. Showing diligence in their home communities also demonstrates that they are prepared for the responsibility of studying abroad in a new country.
As a host parent, the opportunity to work with a YES student is an enormous chance to positively impact a highly intelligent student. You’ll be hosting foreign exchange students who are gearing up to become change-makers and create a powerful impact on the world!
J-1 Visas and Hosting Foreign Exchange Students
At Ayusa, all of our foreign exchange students are J-1 visa holders. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a part of a series of nonimmigrant visas that allow students and other temporary workers to stay in the U.S. for up to 12 months. Let’s dive into the different types of exchange programs this covers:
- Exchange Visitors Program (EVP): This program issues a J-1 visa for citizens of a foreign country who wish to enter the U.S. as an au pair, camp counselor, intern, scholar, student, and more.
- Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP): Once a foreign exchange student is approved for a visa, they will work with the SEVP to provide information to the Department of Homeland (DHS) security to ensure the safety of the visitors and Americans during the time of their visit.
- Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS): This is where the DHS houses all essential data related to nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors as a way to preserve national security.
As you can see, the process of acquiring a J-1 visa and becoming a nonimmigrant visitor to the U.S. is quite complex. As a host parent, understanding the process it takes helps to see the value of your student's time and experience in the U.S. You’ll quickly come to find that exceptional students make it into Ayusa’s study abroad programs to stay and learn from families like your own!
Other Ways to Get Involved With Hosting Foreign Exchange Students
If you’re not quite ready to become a host parent, we’ve got you covered! Many other roles are available for you to assist in hosting foreign exchange students that will uplift and engage your local community. International students need support in a wide range of areas outside of home and school. Whether you’re a coach, teacher, or volunteer, you’ll find supporting international students happens everywhere. Let’s begin by exploring the role of an Ayusa Community Representative.
Getting involved in the process of hosting foreign exchange students is easy as a Community Representative. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to make a positive impact on families and students alike as you support all parties in the transition to becoming a cohesive family unit.
Community Representatives are a vital part of Ayusa’s study abroad programs that provide ongoing assistance for the entire duration of a student’s visit. Team up with schools in your local area to facilitate exciting exchange opportunities that will globalize your community.
Discover how to become a Community Representative with Ayusa. You’ll be helping integrate high-achieving international students into your community, fostering community-wide international understanding, and building lifelong friendships that will make the world a better place.
Work With Ayusa: Hosting Foreign Exchange Students
Hosting foreign exchange students with Ayusa is a rewarding opportunity to strengthen your connection to your community and improve diversity in your area. By hosting foreign exchange students, you’re enriching the lives of local students, teachers, and community groups. You’ll discover plenty of new and exciting ways to engage with your town and share your culture with bright and curious international students.
Work with Ayusa today! Learn how to become a host parent and start an application, or request more information. We love working with new host parents who want to assist the next generation of global citizens in becoming high-achieving students and leaders.