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Thread: I am a high school exchange student host dad

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Whittier, CA, USA
    Posts
    512

    I am a high school exchange student host dad

    Hello Family Members,

    I hope all of you get to read this, but it is mostly for the USA members. I have been a volunteer with international high school exchange programs for the last 10 years. I have helped send kids from the USA abroad to learn about other cultures, worked with families either hosting a student here in the USA or sending their own kids to other countries. Mostly my wife and I have been a host mom and dad to 10 high school students from Brasil, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Chile, Germany, Thailand, Norway, the Czech Republic and Spain. Families become host families for many reasons, including: interest in other cultures, their family's "old world" culture, exposure to a different languages, perhaps their own children are considering going abroad. I am looking for families interested in hosting a student pretty much anywhere in the USA.

    I can best tell you the strongest reason why I do it. These are young people looking forward to learning about American culture, they come indoctrinated by our popular television, movies, music and what international news describes about us. What a surprise when they arrive in the USA and see what real American families are like. They take their experiences back to their natural families and friends - they have learned that different is just different, not naturally better or worse. They learn that they can overcome these differences and tell their friends what they experienced. Instead of thinking of the USA as the middle country in North America with our money, Hollywood, government, policies... all these people also start thinking of us as the families that took care of their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters or friends. The teens that come here are very interested in learning about the USA and it takes open families and communities to make their immersion into our culture successful.

    Right now is the hardest time I have experienced finding new host families. Obviously the current economy is driving everybody's decisions. Host families are asked to provide a bed (a shared kid's room is fine), three squares a day and most importantly a welcome home. The teens come with their own money, insurance, enthusiasm and are as prepared as they can be for their experience.

    Using our family as an example. We are the wife, 3, 4 and 5 year-old kids and me. We have a small home with a spare bedroom. The students find their own breakfast out of the fridge or pantry, we provide the fixings for lunch or they can buy it at school, dinner is a family event almost every night. If we go out to dinner or go out for a weekend trip we cover our host kids costs. If we go on a longer trip we usually ask their natural family to pay for their airfare or any expensive activities (skiing, Disneyworld, cruise.) When they go out with their friends to a movie or hanging out that is covered by the money their natural family provides.

    Now what does the host family receive? Some things like this. An experience that is difficult to describe, a young "stranger" comes into your home in August and 10 months later everyone is tearfully saying goodbye to a dear family member. Everyone will learn a bit about adjusting (mostly the student). That some families have special goodnight routines. That dad hates that dirty dishes aren't on the left side of the sink, that mom can't stand hair in the shower strainer. That it is rude to touch the father's head in Thailand, in Sweden they have a special holiday for Saint Lucy celebrated with candles and dressing in white, in Spain on New Years Eve it is good luck to eat 12 grapes on the strokes of midnight. Lastly, no money, per US State Department regulations hosting a high school exchange student is strictly a volunteer activity, but you do get a monthly tax credit.

    We receive cards from people we've never met in person yet a link is there through their children that spent a year with us. A great change in the last decade has been the explosion on the internet. I regularly have conversations with "family" members around the globe. On a personal note I have received forged tools from Sweden, wood craftwork from the Czech Republic, visiting Japan my host son was so proud of the deck he built for his mom and dad. Happy news of graduations, first jobs, first baby (it's Norway, marriage optional). There has been sadness too at the passing of a father, grandparents or goals not reached.

    I really hope I have interested you in becoming a host parent. If it even seems a little bit intrigueing please contact me. Or if you have a family member or friend that is into this type of service, please forward this.

    Thanks for reading.
    Dan Gonzales
    Whittier, CA, USA
    Dona nobis pacem

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Delton, Michigan
    Posts
    17,474
    good luck dan and i wasnt one of the dads like you have been, but i did put up a young lady while she attended a nearby college for two terms.. it was kinda nice but things can go wrong as well they arent always rosey... you might want to let the folks know how it works if the student has problems that arent good for the family.. so they can know they have some options .. i am not trying to rain on your idea but know of a exchange student situation where the student got sent back home. theft and law breaking problems.. the plan is a good one and both partys normally gain from the expeirence. my daughter was in scotland for a year threw her college. so i know it works dan
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Whittier, CA, USA
    Posts
    512
    Hi Larry,

    Yes that is true. Sometimes families and students don't match. Our german son was, well... german... and a teenage boy. I got along with him, he drove my wife nuts, I went fishing, hiking and bicycling with him, my wife didn't understand teenage boy. At one point she asked him point blank if he really wanted to be with us because she really didn't mesh with him. Now in this case I grew up with brothers and she grew up with sisters, it was definitely a different perspective. But of all the students he is the one that surprised us after he left. His correspondence has been very thoughtful and caring way beyond what we experienced from him in our home as a sixteen year old.

    For families and students that really can't work it out then the student moves. Like all teenagers they make teenage decisions. It takes a family that is ready to provide that support or is ready to extend themselves. These relationships are sort of like wood, the tree that grows slowly and stands up in the wind and weather grows strongest.

    We had a college student stay with us for just two weeks because he really couldn't handle the craziness in our house and in all honesty you have to be ready for loud in our home. It was a poor fit, sometimes it happens. But there is a dedicated coordinator supporting every family and student and with the coordinator is an established organization and network with decades of experience.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by Dan Gonzales; 07-24-2009 at 12:37 AM.
    Dan Gonzales
    Whittier, CA, USA
    Dona nobis pacem

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Villa Park, CA
    Posts
    1,407
    We hosted Asian kids for a bunch of years and really enjoyed it (mostly Japanese but one Chinese boy). We stay in touch with many of them. It's fun to hear their about their lives and families.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Posts
    1,103

    I am a high school exchange student host dad

    Dan,

    I am Not an exchange student host Dad, but experienced your some of your experiences through my cousins, who lived accross the road from me and had 3 sons of their own. They hosted a young man from Columbia back in 1968. I was older and already out of school, but we got along like family anyway.

    He was just back there for a visit a couple weeks ago and we all had a great time talking about the old times, 40 years ago. My cousin, the host father had passed away a couple years ago, but his wife, the mother, was still living, but not well. He got to visit with her a while and both enjoyed it a lot. (She passed away last week, after he had gone back home to Puerto Rico, where he now lives and works.) It was great seeing him again.

    I also remember the exchange student we had in my class from Belgium. She lived with one of the local doctor's families but was a senior with us. She has returned once or twice for class reunions.

    I hope you enjoy your guest very much.

    Aloha, Tony
    "You got to learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make them all yourself". (Author unknown)

    "Time flies like..... an arrow,,,Fruit flies like..... a banana." Groucho Marx

    Ah,,,to live in Paradise!

    Registered voting member

    Fighting for all I am worth, and praying every day.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    falcon heights, minnesota
    Posts
    5,610
    do you happen to remember what part of colombia (they prefer it with an o) he was from? my wife is from just outside of medellin.
    benedictione omnes bene

    www.burroviejowoodworking.com

    check out my etsy store, buroviejowoodworking

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Posts
    1,103

    I am a high school exchange student host dad

    Dan, Thanks for the correction.

    Jose' was from Bogota. Lots of mountains between.

    Aloha, Tony
    "You got to learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make them all yourself". (Author unknown)

    "Time flies like..... an arrow,,,Fruit flies like..... a banana." Groucho Marx

    Ah,,,to live in Paradise!

    Registered voting member

    Fighting for all I am worth, and praying every day.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New Springfield OH
    Posts
    806
    My sister had exchange students, 3 different ones if I remember right. I guess she was lucky as they where all a good fit.

    Wife and I considered it a couple times but we just don't have the room.
    Throw Apples out the Windows, but make sure not to hit the Penguin.

    If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it canít be done.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,260
    You the man Dan. I think its one of the greatest things to do what you are doing. Closest i come to it is hosting a couple of boys each year when their rugby team tours our province. They usually come from the UK though.

    Back in SA in my own business i used to host a couple of business exchange students. Cannot remember why but they always came from Germany. They were an absolute pleasure to host and we got good use from them in the business. We were busy breaking into the German market and what an aid it was to have a real German doing our research. We ended up employing one of them in Germany afterwards.

    I think this is one of the best peace making processes on the planet. Forms relationships on a people to people basis and brings people of all walks of life together. The more one travels the world the more you get to realize we are all the same. Best way to keep the politicians in their place.

    Well done Dan I admire you and congratulate you for doing it.
    cheers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    Posts
    4,353
    I've never hosted an exchange student, but my wife and her first husband (he's was a high school teacher) did back in the '70's and early '80's.... some of the stories she tells are quite interesting.. some were good experience and some weren't. She mentioned one young man from Brazil that evidently was quite the lover... she caught him in bed with a woman old enough to be his mother.. eventually they had to send him home because of behavior problems... others she said were very easy and a delight. They also hosted some foster children from their area...
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

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