Open Your Doors to the World
Hosting is a vital part of a cultural exchange, immersing the student in a variety of activities while in the host country. The host family plays a large role in offering the student a view of another country and gains the opportunity to learn about a new culture from a young leader.
Hosting – A Culturally Rewarding Experience for the Entire Family
Hosting an exchange student can be a culturally rewarding experience for the entire family. Each day of the exchange, students and host families are reminded of the differences in cultures. Yet, they also discover the similarities. One culture is not superior to the other, just different in varying ways, and the process of discovering the differences and similarities can be fascinating and exciting.
Host Families Come in all Shapes and Sizes
Host families in the Rotary Youth Exchange program come in all shapes and sizes. They can be Rotarians or non-Rotarians and may include young children, older children, or no children at all.
Currently hosting, or considering it for the future? Consider these ideas and suggestions.
Each of RMRYE‘s LTEP “inbounders” becomes a member of up to three Colorado host families during the exchange year. The first family commonly hosts the student from the start of school through Thanksgiving break. The student then joins the next host family through Spring Break. The last family hosts the student to late June/early July.
Host families provide room and board. More important, they integrate the student into their family as a member, establishing close relationships that can last a lifetime.
LTEP is based on reciprocal youth exchange: For each student we receive (inbounder), we send a student from a Colorado community to live abroad (outbounder).
All LTEP exchange students participate in one to two weekend-long orientations in their home countries to help them prepare for the exchange. Shortly after arrival in their host countries, and again halfway through their exchange, they participate in additional weekend orientations. During the exchange, Rotary maintains frequent contact with the students and their host families to provide guidance and, as necessary, to correct issues of concern.
- I should have kids of the same age at home to be a good host parent. The most important aspect we look for in a potential host family is a caring, orderly, and open household. If your family has these qualities, then yours may be an awesome host family. Although children at home may benefit greatly when a family hosts, it is not necessary for a successful exchange.
- I don’t have time. An exchange student is typically very self-sufficient. You won’t need to treat him or her as a visitor to be entertained. The student becomes a member of your family. Provided there is public transportation nearby, you may find their needs to be low.
- I am a single parent. A single parent may host an exchange student of the same gender. Two parents are not necessary for a successful exchange.
It’s a Tremendous Experience
In Estonia, a student from the U.S. gets a taste of life in a newly independent nation. In Japan, a South African student makes an earnest, whimsical attempt to eat with chopsticks. And in the U.S., a group of students from around the world comes together to help clear dead wood from a beetle-kill forest. Rotary Youth Exchange and volunteer host families made all of these experiences possible.
Hosting is a tremendous experience in which you can share in a young person’s hopes and dreams, and develop a lifelong connection with a student and family from another country. It can be challenging to help a young person transition to a new culture and ease into the surroundings, but the rewards are immeasurable.
The exchange student will bring a variety of new ideas and views of the world to the host family. The student may offer to cook a meal typical of the home country. He or she will observe and learn from the family what it means to be part of an American family. The host family will learn things about a foreign culture that can’t be gotten from the typical two-week vacation abroad.
And it’s not uncommon for host families and students to become so close that, even years later, host families are invited to the weddings of the students they hosted.
Ask These Questions on the First Night
On the first night of your hosting experience, ask the student a list of “first night questions” so you can better understand him or her. This also allows the student the chance to learn the expectations set in your household. Although Rotary Youth Exchange students will typically come with their own lists from their sponsor countries, a list of suggested questions can be found in all languages here.
Host families are encouraged to quickly establish rules and expectations in areas such as:
- Normal household routines including meal times, curfews, and bedtimes
- House keys
- Emergency procedures, including phone numbers
- Communications and whereabouts
- Local transportation
- Snacks and meals
- Religious practices
- Inviting friends home
- Phone and computer use
Within your home, you should set consequences for the exchange student as you would for any young guest in your home under your care. Make sure that the rules and consequences are very clear to the guest.
Interested in Hosting?
We’re here to answer your questions. Send us an inquiry, and we’ll get back to you with the information you want.
How to Become a Host Family
The process of becoming a host involves these steps:
After the applicants fill out the Host Family Application, we conduct a background check of all adults residing in the home, interview the adults, perform a home inspection, and contact character references. We provide instructional materials to the family, and before the student arrives, we conduct an orientation to ensure that the host family understands the roles and responsibilities of hosting.