Most times, schools send learners to other countries for a better educational experience through the foreign exchange students program. Popular research shows that over 2,800 students visit the United States every year because of the efforts of this program.
The foreign or international exchange program is a unique process that allows students to immerse themselves in the cultural and academic excellence of a chosen country. Usually, this is done in parts of acquiring a complete diploma in case of insufficient facilities in sponsoring institutions or as an excursion to explore field studies for a specified period..
Hence, this project has helped thousands of students in different ways. Aside from higher career and academic excellence, the foreign exchange program has also fostered the creation of diplomatic relations between host parents and exchange students.
Therefore, If you are considering hosting a foreign exchange student, it’s important to know how enriching your volunteering would be. Aside from the comfort and guidance provided by your hosting service, teams or participants return home transformed. Hence, they form a greater percentage of the world’s change-makers with diverse zeal.
In this article, we will help you understand the core responsibilities of a host, so you can have a wholesome idea of what to do. Also, this article addresses the pros and cons of hosting foreign exchange students from anywhere in the world. By the end of reading this article, we hope you make the best decision and get yourself prepared for hosting foreign exchange students.
Before we get started, let us talk a little more about your responsibilities as a host family in the section that follows.
Responsibilities of the Host Family For Foreign Student Exchange Program
The responsibilities of a host family (the family volunteering to host an international exchange student) spans across different key areas. This ranges from providing suitable healthy meals and even emotional support.
It is therefore important that you consider if you can measure up to these responsibilities before opting to volunteer. This section explains the key responsibilities of the host family for an internal exchange student.
1. You must Provide Suitable Accommodation options for Exchange Students
Having a big house isn’t necessarily the basis of your responsibilities. While a big house would do, other factors like safety, comfort and proximity of essential facilities are key considerations.
Also, your Accommodation option should have spaces for a private bedroom or a shared room (depending on your agreement). Other factors like ventilation and the surrounding space make up what you need to provide as a host family.
2. Make Available healthy Meals
Depending on the grade or level of the exchange student you will be hosting, it is your responsibility to provide meals for the students. This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
However, the major consideration should be on providing meals that are nutritious and healthy. Also, ensure you discuss with the student during the interview phase if they have any dietary restrictions or preferences. If any, you must accommodate changes and abide by the best rules.
3. Make Transportation Easy and Better
As regards transportation, it is your responsibility to provide a means of easy mobility in and out of the house. You could provide the city’s transportation card if your country offers one for free bus access. Otherwise, you can offer to drive them to school or employ other accommodation options.
4. Provide School Support
In an actual sense, you act as the stand-in parent as a host family. Therefore, if ever there is a need for schools to meet with a custodian or guidance, you will play a significant role. In most cases, you may need to assist exchange students with the enrollment process, communicating with the school administration, and ensure they have all school supplies. However, this should be based on your agreement with the student exchange authority
5. Emotional Support
Schooling on its own comes with so much stress, talking more about schooling in a new environment and away from home. The students under your care will need the emotional support they can get from every member of your family, as they will be exposed to other experiences.
Some of these experiences could be homesickness. Getting used to a new environment comes with a lot of traumas for some. Pressure from school and the feeling of starting life from scratch. Hence, the best way to be of support is to create an atmosphere of free communication so students can freely express their feelings and concerns.
It’s important to note that the specific responsibilities may vary depending on the program and the individual agreement between you, the host, and the exchange program. Before hosting, thoroughly review the program guidelines and expectations to ensure you’re prepared for the responsibilities involved.
List of Pros of Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student
Hosting a foreign exchange student sure comes with lots of perks, like the weekly or monthly
Payment and an opportunity to establish personal tiles with students.
Although, while this may sound interesting, it is always important you consider the flip sides. There are always two sides to a coin. As a host family for foreign exchange students, certain factors could come into play while you serve in this capacity. What are these actions?
To answer this question, this section addressed the pros of hosting foreign exchange students.
1. Getting used to Teenager Exchange Students can be frustrating:
Living with teenagers can be complicated, especially when you have to combine with your own. Since you do not know the values and norms practiced in their homes, getting to understand their behavior as you continue with your duties can make you go nuts. Then, if students were not taught how to engage in chores from their respective homes, it will take some time for them to adjust.
2. Siblings Rivalry may occur along the way
If you host a teenager exchange student or even the younger ones, be prepared to settle disputes, as it is very common for families. You may have them arguing over so many trivial things, like who gets to turn on the TV and what channels to watch, and so on. To curtail this, you’ll need to put in the extra effort and create a firm line of compliance, else, if your kids find it hard to adjust, you have a hard time during the day if the exchange student (s)
3. Financial Demands may Triple
Hosting a foreign exchange student means having an additional mouth to cater for, an additional responsibility in all areas of training a child.
Although you would be provided with additional support from the authorities, there are times you have to go out of your way to get things right. You must be ready to inconvenience yourself a little more than before to ensure your guests get the experience while staying with you.
Hence, you must consider your budget and discuss any financial expectations upfront.
4. Cultural Differences and Conflicts
This shouldn’t come as a shocker, right?. Cultural differences may set in on different occasions. So, you must learn to find common ground to restore peace or influence compromise without offending the exchange student. Some likely conflicts may arise due to cultural differences with accepting special dishes or recipes from your end. The old rule still applies here. What works for Mr. X may likely be taboo to Mr. XZ, so get ready to adjust or go out on patience while navigating the process.
5. Emotional Attachment and Goodbyes
If you are privileged to host some nice students, over time, you build bonds and grow attached for life. And if your children get attached too, it can be very hard to say goodbye when their stay ends. Getting used to this aspect of hosting is a really tough process and of which you should be prepared.
6. Communication problem sometimes is inevitable
The ability to communicate fully with a total stranger comes with some blows. If you are lucky enough to host cool-headed teenagers or youths 18 years above, you may safely slide through this process. If not, getting to hold good communication with these teens sometimes can be challenging.
Supposing you cannot communicate freely with your exchange students, this could pose some serious crises if not managed upfront.
Therefore, before hosting a foreign exchange student, it’s important to research reputable exchange programs and understand their requirements. Communicate openly with the program coordinators to ensure you have a clear understanding of their expectations and level of commitment to support.
List of Cons of Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student
In this section, let’s talk about some benefits or advantages of hosting an exchange student.
1. Hosting Gives you a new Family Member
Very true, this is a temporary accommodation, but hosting an exchange student adds a family member to your home. This can add humor and laughter to your home especially, if your children are very welcome to your guest students. The bonds created over time leave a lasting impression that may even extend beyond after the program is over.
2. You will Discover new Habits and Cultural Advantages
Sometimes it takes having an outsider’s watch to discover some lapses from your end. The same goes for the process of cultivating new habits. Hosting an exchange student from a cultured home can be the fundamental change in your family. It could be an extra emphasis on cheerfulness, a warm display of gratitude or a consistent show of discipline. This would form special habit development for your children.
Aside from this, you have the privilege of incorporating some cultural values into guest students that can stick longer in their minds.
3. Some Programs offer Small Stipends to host families
In some countries like the United Kingdom, hosting patents are granted weekly stipends and tax-free rental income for their act of benevolence. Also, qualified TEFL teachers most times earn hourly for tuition fees in the program. However, this is not the case in most other countries.
4. You Gain Exceptional Experience on Personal Growth
Hosting is not as easy as some paperwork claims. Sometimes, you push yourself outside your comfort zone to give your best. Hence, in the process, you may develop for yourself some great soft skills, such as communication, tolerance, empathy, and problem-solving. This serves as a major boost to your self-confidence and independence as you navigate your way through the process of understanding a stranger and living with one.
5. Language Development
If the exchange student learns a different language from what you know, you’ll have the advantage of learning a second foreign language at no cost.
After all, you would be staying at the same home, maybe in different apartments or rooms, but in the cause of your daily communication, you can cease special occasions to brush up your language proficiency.
You can engage in conversations, exchange language lessons, and learn colloquial expressions. This language immersion can enhance your fluency and proficiency.
6. Hosting Foreign Exchange students can be a Lifelong Family Tradition
Hosting exchange students is more an act of charity and benevolence than a transactional service. Because in the long run, you have the privilege of contributing to the career and personal growth of young adults. The virtue accumulated during these moments only sums up greater advances in the future. And could become a family tradition.
Imagine setting on a legacy of hosting students for however long their stay. Regardless of the ups and downs which are bound to happen anyway, this is an enriching process that can change your family history in the long run.
Conclusion on Foreign Exchange Student
Hosting a foreign exchange student surely comes with its odds, but you can not cut off the advantages too. You sure will enjoy the opportunities of building lifelong connections across the world and the offer of contributing to the future through your benevolence act.
Although, while there are challenges to overcome, as discussed in the pros above, the rewards far outweigh them all. However, as a rule, before you decide to be a host family, ensure to do your due diligence. Seek the consent of your home and set everything in place.
If the service of giving back to society sits well with you, this could be your chance to give back to your community. So, good luck with your decision.