Share the Culture of America with a Student From Another Country

images-2What better way to begin a new year than to impact the way you, and your family, view others cultures? Hosting a student from a foreign country not only brings the world into your home, it teaches understanding and tolerance of another person’s customs and values. Every year hundreds of American families choose to host a high school/college student from an Asian or European country. They claim that, while their intent was purely altruistic, they were the ones to have benefited the most by building strong familial ties and memories to last a lifetime.

Requirements to become a host family vary from agency to agency, with some more demanding than others, i. e., separate bedroom vs. shared bedroom.  All require a stable, nurturing environment in which the student is treated like part of the family, and the student, as the newest member of your family, is instructed to follow the rules and expectations of your household.

Host families may include single parent households, parents with adult children, small children or no children, working parents, same sex couples, empty nesters and military families.  The enrollment process is stringent, although relatively easy to navigate.

Locate a State Department partner organization that administers a hosting      program of particular interest to you.

Fill out an online application through a State Department partner organization’s web site, or alert them of your interest via an e-mail introduction.

You will receive a response from the organization’s local coordinator who has been assigned to assist your family.  He/she will visit your home at The Modern to explain the hosting experience and to answer any questions you may have, and remain your ‘go-to’ person throughout the student’s visit with you in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

You’ll have the opportunity to review student applications and select the student you feel is the best fit for your family. Based on that criteria, your family will be matched with a student.

You will not receive compensation as a volunteer host family. However, the IRS does allow you to claim a flat fee of $50.00 for each month you serve in this capacity for the coming tax year.

You do not have any financially responsibility for your student. Each student is required to have a guaranteed $200.00 per month spending money available to them, as well as medical insurance coverage. Although you are not considered their legal guardian you do have the right to make medical decisions for the student should the need arise.

There are many Host programs available, with an equal variety of choices – from a summer program, a semester or a full academic year. Exchange students in a summer program are here for 14 weeks; the semester program is five months, a full academic  program is 10 months Typically, students arrive 7-10 days before school begins and depart 7-10 days after the program ends.

Now more than ever, there is a need in our world for more cultural understanding. You can be a powerful voice in this movement by volunteering to participate in an International school exchange program.  Becoming a host family will enrich everyone in your family, and create a positive and meaningful experience that will endure long after your student has departed.





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