Preparing for the arrival of your AYA student can really be so much fun. The little details and extra effort you put into preparation can easily mean the world to a young person venturing to a foreign country – perhaps leaving the comfort and familiarity of home for the first time ever. This is such an opportunity to make a great first impression and celebrate the experience you and your exchange student are about to embark upon.
Host families looking forward to welcoming a foreign exchange student for the first time will find plenty of support and guidance from their Local Coordinators to make sure everything is in order for the student’s arrival. Just as students can be very excited and nervous about arriving, host families often feel jittery and nervous as they eagerly anticipate welcoming an international student to their home.
Thoughtful preparations and smiling faces are often all that is needed to make a great first impression. Upon arrival, your student may be a little overwhelmed and very excited by all of the new sights and sounds in an unfamiliar place. Prepare a welcome with the idea of showing support and your enthusiasm for your student’s arrival, but keep in mind that a big party and large welcome committee may be a bit much to process right away.
Greeting your exchange student with a homemade sign is a very nice way to get started. Don’t forget to take pictures so you will always have a keepsake to remember this special moment. Making the sign can be a fun activity for family members to share in the excitement of hosting a foreign exchange student. Another way to prepare, while you are excitedly awaiting your exchange student’s arrival, is to create a family photo album or memory box that the student will be able to use to commemorate adventures, friendships and accomplishments in America.
Your AYA student may be a little tired at first, getting acclimated to life away from home. A simple meal and maybe a celebration cake might be the best on the first day. Hosting a meet and greet party or introducing your host student to friends and neighbors gradually over the next several days is sometimes a better option than a giant arrival party. A simple family dinner and welcome cake followed by a comfortable night’s sleep can set the stage beautifully for plenty of fun getting to know each other in the days and weeks ahead.