Become a host parent is one of the most exciting, yet challenging ventures a responsible parent can accomplish in a lifetime. Sharing a home with a student from abroad comes with its own unique rewards of which there is an over abundance. Learning about cultures from abroad that have yet to be discovered removes walls of hatred and bigotry between nations that have stood firm for generations. Accepting an individual from another country into a family home, within the United States boundaries or abroad,is the beginning of relationships that will continue to flourish and expand into permanent memories to be carried forward for many generations yet to come.
Become a host parent entails the preparation of the arrival of the foreign exchange student selected. Where open and welcome arms is often quite sufficient, hosting parents want their new family member to become and feel like one of the family during his or her stay. Become a host parent goes beyond traditional expectations with knowledge, patience and an over-whelming feeling of commitment to the incoming student. Creating a welcoming environment is mandatory to show the new member of the family that his or her new family is ready and willing to make the student as comfortable as possible thousands of miles from home.
Become a host parent and take the time to learn about the new family member. The majority of incoming exchange students speak English proficiently, a requirement of the Exchange Program. Perhaps a little apprehensive the first few days after arrival, give the new member of the family time to adjust to his or her new surroundings. It is not recommended that large family gatherings or outings are scheduled during the first few days as the student’s thoughts are still with their family in their native country. Time is of the essence in getting to know your new family member. The more time you can allow your new family member to adjust, the better the overall outcome with less resistance to changes.
Become a host parent is listening and asking questions of your new family member. If he or she brought pictures of their family, take the time to sit down and listen while learning about other family cultures and lifestyles. Respect your new family member’s traditions in Religion and observance of special Holidays that may be part of his or her heritage. Take the time to ask about any dietary restrictions or special foods that are commonplace in his or her family. Allow communications between exchange students family and the student either through Skype or other means of communication. Obviously the student will feel misplaced and homesick for as long as a few weeks, therefore open communication between all will aid in the student becoming less anxious with his or her new found American family.
Become a host parent and within a minimal amount of time, a feeling and overwhelming sense of gratitude, appreciation and discovery will have been found when taking the time to listen and learn.