End-of-Year Advice From Experienced Host Families

Life changing experiences deserve a little acknowledgment and processing–and an exchange year is a life changing experience for everyone involved! As this year wraps up, set aside some time to talk with your student and family about the experience you’ve shared together. Steer away from focusing on the student leaving, which puts additional stress on the student; instead, focus on all the positive experiences you’ve shared this year. What a special and wonderful thing it is that you’ve developed a meaningful relationship that will last a lifetime.

Goodbye Advice from Experienced Host Families

  • Help prepare the student for departure by assuring them that they will always have a home with them.
  • Talk to them about their friends and family back in their home country and how great it will be to see them again.
  • If you are having a “going away” party, do not plan until right before they leave. Otherwise you will spend weeks saying goodbye.
  • Write a note to your student and give it to them when they leave for them to read when they get home. You can also make a scrapbook as a gift to remember all the fun experiences they had.
  • Take a family picture on a special day, like prom day! Make a nice print;  give one to the student and frame one for your home.
  • Decide a simple family project,  like making bracelets together.  This will create a special memory and you will all have something to keep to remember.
  • Plant a tree or flowering bush together. Take a picture and tell them when it blooms you will send them an update.  It’s a great way to feel connected to each other.  

Family Wrap Up Activities

  • Rose, Thorn, Bud: Easy and quick- good for the dinner table or a car ride!As a group, go around and have each person identify and share their rose, bud, and thorn from the program.Rose: The highlight or best part of the program i.e. creating lifelong friendships, new activities, growth.Thorn: A challenge or something they struggled with i.e. the language barrier, the food, missing mom.Bud: Something to look forward to in the future! i.e. working on a new skill, reunions, next life step.
  • Commendation Sheets: Medium effort, timeline depends on how many people are participating. Better with big group and room to move around!Materials Needed: Printer paper, writing utensils (markers are better), and a piece of tape for everyone participating.Everyone starts off with a writing utensil and a blank piece of paper taped to their back. As a group move around the room writing a commendation or something you admire about that person on each paper. At the end of the activity everyone should have written on everyone else’s paper, ending up with a full page of compliments from the group. These pages become keepsakes and reminders of what we are capable of!
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The Boundless Benefits of Becoming a Host Family

The Boundless Benefits of Becoming a Host Family

Host families do more than just share their homes and hearts. In fact, host families often gain as much from the exchange experience as the student does. Benefits of hosting are really boundless, and we have shared a few here we believe are encompassing of the host family experience.

Experience a new culture.

Cultural exchange is a key point in student exchange and perhaps even vital to understanding global interactions. Inviting exchange students into your home and community is an opportunity to learn and to teach. Having exposure to new cultures, languages and ideas helps expand knowledge, accept differences and opens the door for communication and friendships.

See life from a new perspective.

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often miss the little things. Hosting an exchange student is a tangible way to pause for a moment and take everything in. Having a new set of eyes see your daily life through allows you to break routine and really appreciate life.

Find a new mentor, friend, and sibling for your kids.

Children already see the world from a different perspective and inviting an exchange student is an opportunity to learn about someone different from their own family. Younger children will have an incredible mentor and older sibling to learn from and older children will have a new friend to share experiences and school with. No matter the age, the lessons learned and the memories shared between your children and exchange students are invaluable.


Exchange students who come to the U.S. to study don’t need a lot of things, excursions or special treatment. But what they do need is you! They need a supportive and safe “home away from home.” A place they can truly be themselves, which includes all of the warmhearted fumbles and candid moments, which can turn into the fondest memories.

Stay connected.

We often hear from host families who keep in contact with the student they hosted well beyond the dates of the program. These friendships span over several continents and are one of the most profound parts of student exchange. Whether, sending a text, mailing a holiday card or even visiting a student in their home country, host families are truly connecting the world through education and culture.

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