Encouraging Your International Student To Explore American Culture | Dear Angela

Dear Angela,

My student spends a lot of time alone, and most of his friends are other international students from his home country. What can I do to encourage my student to get the most out of the local experience?

Thanks for any advice,

Wanting to Help Host Family

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Dear Host Family,

That’s a great question and thank you for reaching out!

As a host family, it is one of your central duties to encourage your student to explore American culture, practice English skills, and interact in their community. One way to accomplish this is to help your student make American friends. By becoming friends with other American students, they will refine their English comprehension, which, in turn, will improve their test scores and overall academic performance. Also, your student will have the opportunity to gain insight into contemporary American culture, interact with more American families, and develop long-lasting relationships.

This may seem like a challenging task. However, I have a few tips for you:

  • Encourage your student to participate in after school activities like sports, band, or clubs. (For more details on how to talk to your student about joining a sports club)
  • Help schedule volunteer activities. Schools, community centers, and local churches are always in need of volunteers. These organizations may also have more teen-centered volunteer activities if you ask. Many students also have school requirements for volunteer hours, so the student’s volunteer work would be a win-win!
  • Get involved with the school and meet some families of American students. Plan some activities for the kids to do together or have them over to your home.
  • Plan a special celebration for your student, like for their birthday or home country holiday. Encourage your student to invite a couple of American classmates or invite friends with teens of a similar age to join you. (How to celebrate Chinese birthdays)
  • Look around your neighborhood to see if there are any local kids around the same age. Initiate the introductions to the other teens.
  • Talk with your student’s guidance counselor to see if they can help pair your student with an American student with similar interests.
  • Brainstorm other ideas with your local Student Development Manager (SDM).

Making friends is not easy for everyone. It can be daunting and overwhelming, and often students find it easier to stay in their comfort zone. However, with a little patience and guidance from you, your student will flourish and make the most of this cultural experience!

Thank you again for reaching out! We wish you a successful year with your student.

Please feel free to reach out with any additional questions or concerns at [email protected]

Check out our homestay blog for more information on Cambridge Network as a residential provider and tips for hosting. If you’re interested in hosting an international student, please fill out an inquiry form!

All the best,



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