Do you ever feel like you want to make a difference in the world, but you don’t know where to start? Hosting an international exchange student is one of the easiest ways to make an impact on a young person’s life – and on your family’s life and community too!
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should host an international exchange student:
1. Your family and community will learn first-hand about another culture.
Hosting an exchange student gives your family and community the unique opportunity to learn about another culture and share food, holidays and traditions with each other. If you have children of your own in your home, this cultural exchange experience can help open their eyes to the world beyond their own neighborhood and teach them important lessons about accepting differences and finding common ground.
“We started hosting when our kids were in 3rd and 5th grade, ages 9 and 11. Hosting taught them to be open to other people and to look for common ground with people. They soon realized that most of the differences were small enough that friendships could grow.” – Denise, AYA host mom
2. Gain a new perspective on your life.
When you host an exchange student, you’ll also get the chance to see your everyday life as an American from a global perspective. A simple trip to the grocery store can transform into an exploration of the differences, both big and small, between their home country and the United States. The experience of seeing your surroundings through your exchange student’s eyes is uniquely gratifying and refreshing.
3. It’s FUN!
From road trips to trips to the salon, there are tons of activities host families can share with exchange students. As a host family, you’ll get to watch your exchange student have a range of experiences for the first time. It’s exciting to support international students while they discover what high school in America is really like (beyond what they’ve seen depicted in TV and movies). Our host families tell us nothing quite compares to watching their exchange student have new adventures like attending prom, joining extracurriculars, or making new friends.
“We are having a wonderful time with [our exchange student]. She arrived before school started, so we spent that time traveling around our beautiful state of Michigan and crossing a lot of ‘firsts’ off of her list of things to do. She went jet skiing, sand dune climbing, zip lining and tubing! Now that school started, things have calmed down a bit, but we’re busy planning our next adventure!” – Megan, AYA host mom
4. Build lasting bonds that transcend borders.
Many of our host families and exchange students stay in touch long after the student returns home. We’ve heard countless heartwarming stories of former exchange students returning to visit their host family, as well as host families traveling to visit former exchange students in their home country. By welcoming an international student into your life, you can create global bonds that last a lifetime.
5. You’ll make a difference in a young person’s life.
It’s the perfect opportunity to promote understanding and peace through cultural exchange. As a host family, you become an unofficial ambassador for your country. You’re giving your exchange student the gift of experiencing another culture while also being safe, secure, and part of your loving family.
“My American [host] family aren’t just people I live with. These people are a new family for me. A family for life.” – Ludwig, AYA exchange student