Explore the World From Home: Host an International Student
As homeschoolers, we often seek positive learning experiences outside of traditional academic work. One of the ways our family learns about the world is through hosting International Students.
We’ve been borrowing other people’s children for many years. We started with fostering and later began hosting secondary school students from other countries. We’ve had students for as little as a month and for as long as a year. We’ve hosted youth who were fluent in English and some who could speak very little when they arrived. All of our students have been a blessing and have enriched our lives.
Hosting is a fantastic way to:
- meet new people
- learn about other cultures and traditions
- increase your kids’ interest in geography
- share your blessings
- Share your faith (sometimes to kids who have never heard the gospel before)
What to Expect?
Hosting organizations offer a variety of programs and options (i.e., number of students, length of stay, type of school program, exchange requirements, etc). Once you are involved with a group, they will keep you informed of opportunities as they arise. The exchange company often pays a subsidy for food, accommodations, utilities and other basic costs while the student’s family usually pays for other expenses such as souvenirs, trips and school activities.
If you are looking to increase your own foreign language skills, this isn’t your best bet. Your student’s main purpose for travelling is usually to develop his or her skills in English. Some schools have strict rules about speaking the native language while students are visiting. On the other hand, since conversation is important, you will likely have a chance to learn a lot about the country or city your visitor hails from and how people typically live.
While your visitor will be interested in how you live, it’s possible that you might run into difficulties. Talk to other host families about successes and difficult situations. Ask lots of questions at the host agency. Prepare ahead of time, considering how you might deal with potential problems such as:
- culture shock
- food dislikes or intolerances
- different ways of performing daily tasks (e.g. showering)
- difficulties with school work
- lifestyle differences
- discipline issues
- language barriers
We have found our young children to be a benefit to the students who visit. Little ones seem less afraid of the language barrier and there is nothing like a good board game or some trampoline time to reduce pressure and get everyone talking. Getting students involved in school or community activities is very helpful when it comes to developing language skills and having a positive stay. In our experience, the more students interact with others, the more fluent and content they tend to be.
How to Get Involved
We first responded to a telephone number in our local grocery store but a quick google search of “international students” or “exchange students” with your community name will turn up several contacts. Don’t worry if you don’t live near a major city. Many international schools like to place their students away from urban centers so the kids have more chance of being immersed in English language and culture. Also, don’t worry if you don’t have a student to “exchange”. This isn’t always a requirement and many students are simply placed without a reciprocal agreement.
Hosting international students has been such a fun and worthwhile learning experience for our family. Have you ever hosted or been hosted? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Shari Talbot is a Freelance Writer from Wasaga Beach, Canada. She currently homeschool two wonderful bobbins, supports her husband in business and blogs at Becoming the Proverbs Woman.
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