Press release from NorthWest Student Exchange:
Becoming a Host Family
Host families are warm, hospitable and understanding families who enjoy meeting new people and making friends from other countries. They invite an international student into their home for the duration of the student’s exchange program in the USA and, by including the student as a member of their family, help the student experience American life and culture. (Note: the program does not provide household domestic or childcare services.)
Broaden your family’s horizons
Hosting is a wonderful opportunity to share your culture with a child from another country while exposing your family to an international experience without leaving home – the world comes to you! By opening up your family circle to a new son or daughter, your family learns about other cultures and can build international friendship, hospitality and understanding. Through your host son or daughter, you learn about another culture’s customs, food, language and perspectives. With the constant development of new technology, the world seems smaller and we are all becoming members of a global village. Hosting an international student brings home the reality of a globally connected world.
Hosting a student is fun!
Having a new family member who shares your family’s interests increases you and your children’s fun quota! Exchange students are eager to participate in their new family, school and community and have a lot to offer. You can introduce your exchange son or daughter to U.S. society by taking them to a school dance, a football game, a county fair or a Fourth of July parade. Many host families become lifelong friends with their exchange students and after their hosting period and some have later travel to the home country of their exchange student. Your children, too, have the opportunity to improve the use of a language they are studying.
Responsibilities of hosting
You should treat your exchange student just like one of your children. The student needs the same understanding, support and encouragement as any teenager, and should also have the same share of responsibilities and chores around the house as any other family member. Rather than treat the exchange student as a guest, you should integrate the student into your family life and activities. You have parental authority for the student while he or she lives with your family. You should have reasonable expectations toward the student’s behavior. Exchange students are expected to live according to family rules and schedules, just like any other member of the family. NWSE secures permission to enroll the student at school and takes care of most visa procedures.
Exchange students speak English
NWSE screens all students and families before they are accepted and matched. The majority of incoming students have studied English for six or more years. Therefore you will be able to communicate well with your exchange student in English. Due to their advanced English language skills, NWSE exchange students are enrolled in local high schools and attend regular classes. They normally do not need to take English language classes.
All NWSE exchange students are carefully selected
Students complete our applications materials together with writing samples, transcripts, health records and recommendations from teachers. Accepted students are in good academic standing with the equivalent of a 3.0 GPA or above. We interview the students together with their parents in their home country. Students accepted by NWSE are those whose interviews and recommendations reflect the traits and qualifications we seek, such as: emotional maturity and stability, a good sense of humor, an optimistic attitude, adaptability, common sense and capacity to rise to the challenges of an exchange.
Community Outreach Program: ***If you are interested in becoming a Host Family or know someone who is anywhere in the USA, NWSE can donate up to $150 to a community organization or your chosen school program for each Host Family referred and accepted. Contact NWSE now for more information. Each year approximately 200 students participate in our programs. During their visits to the USA students stay with American host families for six to ten months while attending high school.
The Basics of Hosting
The exchange students provide their own spending money (allowance), and pay for clothes, movies and social activities, etc. The host family provides room for the student to live comfortably in their home, meals with the family and the student’s school lunches. Hosting is a voluntary activity and therefore host families can deduct $50 per month of the exchange from their tax return. Please contact us for more details.
Single or double room?
Ideally, exchange students would have their own room, but they can also share a room with a host sibling of the same gender if that room is large enough to provide separate sleeping and studying areas. Students should have enough storage space to keep their clothes and belongings.
You are not expected to be tour guides for your visiting student
It is not necessary to plan extras for your students stay – their main reason for an exchange is to experience everyday family and school life in the United States. However, host families often like to take the opportunity to show their student around their state and to other parts of the USA. You can ask the student to share the costs of these trips and if a family vacation is planned, this can be discussed with the student’s natural parents before the student arrives so that they can pay in advance for his or her travel and other expenses.
All students arrive in the USA with health and accident insurance provided by NWSE and/or their parents. The student will pay any deductible costs.
Local representative support during the exchange
When you become a host family, NWSE will have a local representative available to you in your area. The representative will meet with you once your student arrives and will keep regular contact with you throughout the exchange. The representative acts as a neutral third party for you and your student in the local community to support and facilitate your exchange.
In addition to your local representative, we maintain a 24-hour emergency line at the NWSE headquarters in Seattle.
When do students arrive?
Most students arrive toward the end of August if they are staying in the USA for the fall semester or the academic school year. Students staying for the spring semester arrive at the end of Jan.
When should we make a final commitment to host a student?
Your commitment to host should be made as soon as possible. The earlier you chose a student the more time you have to prepare and correspond with your student before their arrival.
How do we apply to be a host family?
Complete the NWSE Host Family Application
A NWSE representative will visit you at home and conduct an interview. We look for families who can provide a safe, comfortable, friendly and appropriate environment for a visiting student.
Following a successful interview we will attempt to match your family’s personality and interests with one or more of our students and will send you their profiles for you to make a selection.
Once you have committed to host a particular student, we will send a copy of your application to the student and you will begin the process of getting to know each other by letter, phone or e-mail.