As homeschoolers, we like to think that the world is our classroom. The world is a very big place, though, which makes seeing it all quite a challenge, both economically and time-wise. It is possible, however, to enjoy first-hand experiences with people of other countries and cultures, by hosting a foreign student in your home.
Students from around the world come to the United States for several weeks, stay with a local family and learn English through immersion. They learn about our culture, our history, our geography, and so much more, while sharing their culture with their homestay family. One of the oldest and most trusted educational exchange programs is EF Homestay Programs, which has been connecting students and families since 1979.
There is no doubt that hands-on experiences are a wonderful way to bring our children’s studies to life, be it in math, science, or in the case of becoming a homestay family, social studies. One of the benefits of hosting a student from another country is that it makes the study of geography, history, and other cultures, even languages, more interesting for our children. Although we live in an increasingly multi-cultural society, we rarely get a chance to interact and form friendships with people from other nations. This is where hosting a student becomes a unique opportunity.
Another huge benefit of hosting a student in your home is the opportunity to provide a positive learning experience for a young person. The students in the EF programs spend 2-4 weeks in the United States each summer. “We have groups of children, aged 10-17 from over 12 countries coming to Florida between June 25th and August 25th. They go to school and do activities with our staff during the weekdays. Besides that, our host families have the students at all other times. It is a wonderful experience changing the lives of children, one at a time,” says Nolan Sutker, Operations Manager for EF.
The basic requirements of a homestay family is to provide a room for the student, 3 meals a day and a loving, caring, stable environment. The students come fully insured and with their own spending money for souvenirs.
As a former study aboard student myself, I wholeheartedly encourage parents to consider becoming a homestay family. As a college student, I traveled to Montpellier, France to study French and stayed with a single mother and her three children in their home. We learned so much from each other and became very close. Although I did feel homesick, the fact that I was staying with a family helped me immensely. They opened their home and their hearts, and as a result my experience in France was a highlight of my youth. I hope to be able to do the same for a young person someday soon!
If hosting a student sounds interesting to you, click here to learn more about hosting a foreign student with EF Homestay Programs. They are currently looking for host families throughout Florida. You can also contact the local Florida EF representatives Lisa Cundiff- (904) 613-6930, Lisa.Cundiff@ef.com or Maryann True- (904) 704-1747, Maryann.True@ef.com.