Opening your home to a young person from another country might seem daunting. However, hosting a high school exchange student can be a very enriching and rewarding experience for a family. You will see the world through someone else’s eyes, broaden your family’s horizons, help foster global understanding and break down cultural barriers just by being a family!
Hosting an exchange student provides a unique opportunity for cultural immersion without leaving your home. You’ll learn about your student’s local customs and daily life while they experience yours. This is a chance to showcase your family’s traditions, favourite food, and local attractions. It allows the student to experience the beauty and uniqueness of the culture in Australia or New Zealand as you share your everyday life with them. Exchange students are not tourists; they are part of your family and are encouraged to participate with your family in local community events, school activities, and other social gatherings. Their presence can bring a fresh perspective, and their presence can enrich the local and school communities.
Exposure to different cultures can be an eye-opening experience for your children. They’ll learn to appreciate diversity, develop a global mindset, and might even pick up some new language skills!
Many host families form deep bonds with their exchange students, leading to lifelong friendships. These relationships often result in future visits and sometimes even trips to the student’s home country. Hosting gives many parents a renewed sense of purpose and provides great satisfaction in knowing they have made a difference in a young person’s life from another culture.
Hosting a student can also provide challenges! You will need to be patient, understanding, and adaptable. For many host parents and host siblings, it is an experience that brings about immense personal growth. “Being a host family brings so many benefits. Through my host brother, I have learnt so much about the unique culture and beautiful culture of Uruguay,” said host sister Naomi from Sydney. “As we watch our exchange student grow to become one of our own, see him find a group of friends and gain confidence and start to master English, I can say that this is one of the most rewarding and exciting journeys a family can take together.”
Hosting is not just about providing a room and meals to someone else’s child. It’s about opening your heart and home, bringing the world to your table, and welcoming a young person who is eager to learn, share and become part of your family’s story.
If you have the means and the space, it’s an experience not to be missed.