Some people say that hosting an international student is about so much more than just providing a place to stay. It is a rich, rewarding opportunity that comes with a unique perspective on other cultures and, often, a new friend for life.
Cambridge Network Homestay welcomes qualified host families of all kinds, regardless of race, ethnicity, or region. We have seen all sorts of successful pairings between our host families and students. Of course, there are certain qualities of exceptional hosts for an international student that help create a caring and supportive environment. If you are interested in hosting an international student, below are some qualities and tips on how you can become a great host family.
- Include your student in family activities.
Consider the activities your family (immediate and extended members) enjoy together. International students appreciate seasonal activities, such as apple picking or pumpkin carving in the fall, decorating the house during the winter holiday season, or barbecuing in the spring and summer. Even if the activities you enjoy doing with your family don’t seem that out of the ordinary to you, such as watching television or movies together, the experience may be very special for an international student.
- Treat your student as you would your own children
Although your student is not your biological child, as host parents you are their guardian while they are staying with you. Your student should be treated as another member of your family. As such, s/he should be accountable for expectations you would hold of your own children. Do your children do chores? Do they have a curfew? Is there a “lights out” time at night? If so, it is perfectly acceptable (and expected) for those same rules to apply to your international student. This will provide more structure and give them (and your own children) a more seamless transition.
Cambridge Network Homestay tip: Be upfront with your student and set their expectations both before and after their arrival so everyone is consistently on the same page. They may not be used to certain American routines and may need reminding at times.
- Make an effort to really get to know your student and his or her culture
Yes, your student is here to study at an American high school and learn about American culture, but s/he is likely also very eager to share his or her background with you. This is a great opportunity for you and your family to learn interesting aspects of another culture. We encourage all of our families to ask students about life in their home country. Reciprocal cross-cultural understanding comes from sharing of traditions, and everyone can participate.
- Know that you don’t have to be “perfect”
This is a hard one. After all, you want your student to always see you and your family in the best light possible, right? That’s great, but not always feasible for the long-term. Simple science dictates that there are going to be those days where the dog makes a mess on the floor, the sink gets clogged, and you can’t find your car keys. And that’s okay! Your student will likely be staying with you for several months, so it’s important to remember that although your student will appreciate your efforts, you are human and things happen. Take the pressure off yourself and realize that they are human, too – and no matter what country you are from, everyone has “those days!”
- Enjoy it!
Not everyone can say they’ve hosted an international high school student before. It’s an interesting and unique experience, and one that you and your family members will never forget. You will likely stay in touch with your student for a long time after they’ve stayed with you, and may even get the chance to visit them in their home country at some point! Families who want to host a student for the experience tend to be our best success stories. So, enjoy the ride and remember that you can always reach out to your Cambridge Network staff if any questions or situations come up that you are unsure about. We strive to make your time hosting the best experience it can be, and we want to make sure you are supported in every way.
Cambridge Homestay Services is currently searching for host families across the country! Most of our students are arriving in August, but some are arriving as early as the end of July.
Some areas that we have the highest need include:
- Rye, NY
- Foxborough, MA
- Natick, MA
- Medfield, MA
- Roeland Park, KS
- Marine City, MI
- Pontiac, MI
- Oldenburg, IN
- St Paul, MN
- Wilmette, IL
- Lombard, IL
- Minneapolis, MN
- Thousand Oaks, CA
- Burbank, CA
- Oxnard, CA
- Ventura, CA
- West Hollywood, CA
- Santa Monica, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Spokane, WA
Please contact us if you’re interested in hosting an international student, or join us in spreading the word – don’t forget about our $300 referral bonus! You will receive the $400 bonus whenever an approved host family lists your name on their application. This goes for any family you refer, ANYWHERE in the U.S.!