Would you invite someone you’ve never met to live in your home, feed them, and share your family’s daily activities with them, all for no compensation?
Tens of thousands of American families do this every year, and many do it again and again, year after year!
Who are these crazy people? They are volunteer host families who are willing to open their homes to a student from another country. In return, they receive a fascinating glimpse into another culture, along with the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped a young person from another country gain an appreciation of what life in America is really like.
Hosting (and being an exchange student abroad) gives you a window into a culture you’d never get by going to a country and just visiting the tourist attractions. A few things I’ve learned from either being in a home-stay program, or from students my family has hosted:
- Scandinavian babies are often placed outside for naps, even in the winter, and it’s OK to leave the baby outside in a baby carriage when you go in a store to shop.
- In China, many women believe you shouldn’t bath or leave the house for a month after you give birth.
- In Japan, you will be gently scolded you if you don’t sort ALL of your recycling into the correct bins. Or if you forget to take off the special toilet slippers when you leave the bathroom.
Hosting a student gives your children an interactive learning experience, or a temporary son or daughter to enjoy even if you don’t have children. In a very short time, that stranger becomes a member of your family. Many host families develop life-long relationships with their host sons or daughters, sometimes visiting families and attending weddings years later.
There are many reputable organizations that arrange volunteer hosting and home-stay programs of varying lengths, and many are active in the greater Media area.
A google search will give you many options to research, and you can visit the volunteer section of Media Patch for a couple of local options.