Since 1982, we've provided the opportunity for American host families, local community leaders serving as Area Representatives, and exchange students from around the world to learn, grow, and share in the cultural exchange experience together. Over the past 10 years, we've provided programs for...
Host Family Testimonials
Our First Host Family Experience
Our family made the choice to host a foreign exchange student for the 2017-2018 school year. We completed all of the necessary documents, created a family profile and had a hard time picking out what student we would like to share our home with. We finally chose a wonderful young lady from Barcelona and, once approved, we made contact prior to her arrival. It was exciting having the opportunity to get to know her, her family, and her reasons for wanting to study abroad over Skype. It felt like forever as we waited for her to arrive. The last-minute prepping of our home, trying to ensure everything was just right, the purchasing of a welcome to our family gift, writing a rules and expectations book, and making a “Welcome” sign was so exciting. The anticipation of her arrival was palpable. Finally, the day arrived that she was flying in and we anxiously waited at the airport with butterflies in our tummies and smiles on our faces. When we finally saw her walking our way she was nervously grinning from ear to ear. Having had the opportunity to have several conversations with her before her arrival made it easy for us to quickly embrace her and try our hardest to not make her feel more nervous, awkward, and overwhelmed than she already did. The first few days were a whirlwind of getting her sleep schedule adjusted, touring her new school, trying new foods and meeting classmates, family, and friends. As the days turned into weeks and then months and we really got to know her likes and dislikes and who she really was, we knew we wanted to make her stay with us as memorable as we possibly could. We exposed her to our culture by taking her to do fun things such as high school Friday night football, Reds baseball game, Cavs basketball game, Amish Country, Cedar Point Amusement Park, New York City for New Years Eve, and a trip to Cancun Mexico. While we did have boring days at home, we experienced getting to know our culture through her eyes. We were quickly reminded how much we take for granted. Seeing our world through her and watching her eyes light up at simple things made this experience well worth it for our family. Our family got extremely close with our “bonus daughter” and we knew how much she cared when our biological daughter became deathly ill and was admitted into Children’s Hospital for 3 weeks on a ventilator. Our bonus daughter was amazing during this time and so helpful by being so strong. The bond you create with these young adults is amazing. They truly do become a part of your family, as if they were meant to be there from the beginning of time. In a few short weeks we will be putting our daughter on a plane to send her home to her family. It is a day that I’m sure will be emotional for us all and we will end her trip the way it started, with butterflies in our tummies and smiles (and tears) on our faces. I have no doubt that we will always remain in contact with our bonus daughter and can only hope that as she heads home we provided her with memories to last a lifetime, as that is what I know she provided for our family.
Life-long Memories Through Hosting
We have hosted 4 times in the past 7 years, and each girl has been the best experience we could have hoped for. The last two girls came through ISE and, sadly, will be leaving us soon. They will be taking a piece of our hearts home with them! The experience is one that I wish for every family out there. These students brought joy and laughter into our home, and it truly feels like they are a part of our biological family. The most precious part of this experience is that we now have forever family all over the world whom we can visit at anytime. These families have welcomed us with open arms and a grateful kindness that is too good to be true. We can’t speak highly enough about this program and all the good that comes from it. It has enriched us all and opened our eyes and hearts to new cultures, foods, languages, and love. We are forever grateful that these brave girls stepped out of their comfort zone and decided to live abroad in America. We are equally grateful that we decided to “give it a try” all those years ago and welcome these wonderful, smart, and loving girls into our life.
Hosting an Exchange Student in Our Open Home
During the 2009-2010 school year, two families from my school hosted exchange students and I thought it would be a neat experience. We hosted our first student in 2010 and have been hosting since then. Being a host family has so many rewards! First, the bond that you make with students from other countries is unbreakable. I get messages from all my students all the time and they still call me mom. Second, it teaches your own children to open their hearts to other cultures. Third, it gives you a chance to help another person which in itself is very rewarding. My youngest child was 1 when we started hosting and she considers them to all be her brothers and sisters.
We have hosted two students from Korea, two from China, one from Brazil and one from Venezuela. I had two students decide even decide to come back and stay for a second year. This summer, my oldest is getting married and we are hoping to have most of them here so that we can get a family photo. My daughter got to go visit Brazil for two weeks when she went back with one of the exchange girls. Two of my daughters and myself got to go to China for two weeks and see the country and meet her parents. I would not change my experience for anything and we are planning on hosting again next school year.
Love and Family Have No Borders
I’ve been hosting for over 5 years and have 11 exchange daughters across the globe. I stay in touch with each and every one of them after they leave. And although my current daughters haven’t personally met my previous ones, we are a growing family. As a single mom, I host 2 students at a time. It’s such a wonderful experience to bring these kids together from different cultures to meet with mine here in America where we all learn and grow from each other. When I Skype with my previous girls, my current ones are right there with me. And when I’m preparing my new girls to arrive, my current ones are right there with me. We truly have no boundaries when it comes to love and family.
Cultural Exchange Goes Both Ways
Hosting taught us that cultural exchange goes both ways. Our two foreign exchange students, Luya from China and Dat from Vietnam, shared information and activities from their country with elementary students at two of the local elementary schools. Each had short video clips of their country, then shared their personal story about their cities, daily lives back home and schools. Dat also taught all the students how to use chopsticks providing each with chopsticks and Chinese noodles for a hands-on lesson. Luya taught the students how to create origami hearts. Dat and Luya are natural teachers and the kids loved them. On the last day of school, one class voted that the Dat and Luya’s day at the school was their favorite day beating out the ever popular school field day.
Becoming a Host Family Made Our Family Grow
We loved hosting so much the first time we decided to host two teens this year. We opened our home and hearts to a girl from Thailand and a boy from Spain. We have loved having our house filled with laughter, fun, and learning about different cultures. These kids are forever part of our family. This year we learned how to cook some Thai dishes, went on a family vacation, spent many days at the beach, played lots of family board games, went on family walks with the dogs, survived Hurricane Harvey, heard singing in the shower and seen tears fall as loved ones were lost. We wouldn’t trade a day of it. Our home is going to feel empty when they head back home, but plans are already in the works to visit both of them and meet their families in person. We can’t wait for new adventures!
Becoming a Host Family Was a Life-Changing Experience!
We just finished hosting our first exchange student, a girl from Brazil. Now that she is gone the impact she has made on our family is obvious. Our kids grew to love her as she did them. The friendships with family members across the world are also priceless. You will learn that the ability to share experiences and cultures with someone else is worth more than gold. THIS is what makes life worth living and gives you the ability to give and be remembered, forever.
My Son from Thailand
I have 3 sons, two biological and sweet Teh from Thailand! He spent his sophomore year of his school with us. What an amazing adventure! He learned about America and we learned about Thailand . He went back home 7 years ago and to this day we are still family! He has graduated and now is a navigator in the Thai Navy. SUCH AN AMAZING ORGANIZATION!!!
Hosting Our French Girl Has Been a Gift
Hosting a foreign exchange student these past 6 months exceeded our expectations! She has become forever a part of our heart and our family! What a gift she has been to us! We have learned much about French culture from her and we have taught her a great deal about America. She adapted well and was never a difficult in any way. I feel as though we gained a daughter and a sister. We will miss her terribly! We would recommend this experience to those with children the student’s age or older.
My Family Keeps growing!
Hosting a foreign exchange student is one of the most rewarding things a family can do. I am beyond proud to have an Italian “son,” a German “son,” a Thai “daughter” and an Italian “daughter” added to my brood of 3 children. My 10 grandchildren love their aunts and uncles too!!
Learning about another country’s culture and ideas is the best way to bring this world closer together. I wouldn’t give up my experiences hosting students for all the money in the world. My “kids” are special to me! And I love going to their homes to visit!
Blessings Galore by Becoming a Host Family!
This year we were honored to host three young ladies, two that were 5-month students & one 10-month. Our girls came from Germany, Taiwan, & Vietnam. I never dreamed how much we would grow to love each other as we shared our culture & lifestyle. We watched each of these girls blossom as they made friends in school & in Church. Their grades were amazing & each of them came away with special recognition. Bringing strangers into your home that spoke at best broken English at first & explaining what words mean & how modern appliances work was challenging. Every holiday was amazing! These girls lit up like Christmas trees with every new adventure. We were blessed with girls that were appreciative & extremely helpful, sharing their cooking skills & pitching in with chores. In fact, our first exchange student came back home for spring break three months after initially going home, making this one thrilled Momma of three beautiful girls! We did everything as a family. We became family….a bond that will last a lifetime!
Our Family Had a Great Hosting Experience!
Going into hosting, I did not know what to expect. We did not only get a boy that was coming to America for a great experience but a son, best friend, and all around great kid. He was so much more than we could have hoped for! We have had so many good times, saw so many great places, and just made as many memories as we possibly could. From visiting Disney World, the Pentagon, and the ocean during a sub-tropical storm, Felix was able to make memories he will be talking about for a long time. Him and our son became very close and were best friends by the end of the nine months. It was truly a heartbreaking day when he had to return home to Germany. But, we now have a new family to visit in Germany and have made lasting relationships in a way we could have never imagined.
Becoming a Host Family Has Been A Joy
This was our first experience hosting an exchange student and I was a little nervous because we live in a very small town in Rural Kansas. Would there be enough for her to do? Would she get bored? However, the moment Maria stepped into our lives, she took our family and our small town by storm. She fit right into our lives and she was always happy to share with us about her life in Germany. We spent many of mealtimes just talking and enjoying her company. A favorite thing we would do is “ Family Night” where we would often order a pizza and watch a movie together. Remeber how I said I was worried she would get bored? She was a flurry of activity. She had a wonderfully positive attitude and tried choir, tennis, track, and art-just to name a few activities she was involved with. She made many friends at the school she attended. Several of her classmates told me what an impact she had on their lives. She was a joy to have in our family and in our community. Your life will be greatly enriched through hosting an exchange student. Ours certainly was!
Hosting a Student Expanded Our Family Forever
Our first experience as a host family was a blessing and expanded our family all the way to Germany! We hosted a girl from Germany so our 2 boys could experience having a sister and they didn’t just have a sister for a year, they have a sister for life. She came back and visited us the following summer after she went home and then we went to Germany to visit her and meet her family. It has been an experience of a lifetime and she will always be in our lives! Having such a positive experience opened our hearts to hosting a boy from Spain and we look forward to him coming back to visit us this summer. He filled our hearts with laughter and so many smiles. His family has even visited us already! For the upcoming school year, we will again host, this time a boy from Thailand. Our German girl has even met our soon to be Thai boy too! We just love expanding our family and knowledge of other cultures!
First Time Host Family
This was our first year hosting and while it was not all rainbows and butterflies, we are so very happy that we took on the experience. Being able to welcome an exchange student into our home not only gave them the opportunity to experience the American life, it gave us the opportunity to learn about another culture. We did not just gain a new daughter but a forever-family member. Our exchange student went home two days after Christmas, which was very hard for us since she was supposed to be a full year student. When we found out she was leaving early it was heart-wrenching. However, she promised that it was not because of the experience but because of things happening at home. She also made us promise to visit her in Spain after she returned home. We made that trip in May and had the experience of a lifetime! We lived the culture, explored the country, and made so many friends and family while we were there. While we hear so many host families had to say goodbye because it is the end of the school year, we have said see you later twice now. Neither time has it been a dry-eyed moment, but it has always been a heat filled one.
We talk to our forever Spanish family weekly and cannot wait to visit with them again in the future. We are now preparing for our next student’s arrival in August. We love being host parents and our children love their exchange siblings! I live my life in a way that can help to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, and this absolutely fits!! Hosting exchange students has been the best experience ever!
We Became a Host Family and Our Student Fit Right In
Nina was the third exchange student that we’ve hosted. All exchange students are unique individuals and we’ve enjoyed that each is so different and a new experience. Nina, however, fit in so well with our family and was a great host student! We enjoyed getting to know about the customs in her family, seeing where she went to school and sharing stories. I barrel race as a hobby and she was already adept at riding a horse, having her own and competing in dressage and jumping that she picked up on barrel racing and competed with me which was special. She loved seeing new things so we made many trips to different states (8 in all!) and loved having that experience with her. My husband was deployed through 3 months of Nina being here and it was great to have someone to hang out with when he was away. We look back over the year with great memories and can’t wait to go visit Nina in her home Country of Germany!
Compassion and Sharing Thanks to Becoming a Host Family
As a host family, I did not realize that true compassion could be achievable. I thought about a lot of “what if’s.” Instead, I experienced many firsts. First time ever sharing my home with someone in their teens, first time trying real authentic Brazilian food or Thai food. I learned that by sharing my home, everyone’s hearts grew. We had many laughs and tears. The joy of hosting a student is very indescribable. We can not wait until our next student arrives.
Hosting Was a Great Experience for the Entire Family
I have 3 kids, two in high school and one a senior in college at Iowa State. They came home almost in tears begging me to host an exchange student. They described him as funny, sweet, and thoughtful. They said, “Mom, you will love him.” They would not give up on asking me to please do this. So, I didn’t make any promises but said I would look into it the next day. I have always trusted my kids’ judgment. So the next day, I made a few phone calls. I asked several questions about the exchange student and since this was my first time as a host parent, about my responsibilities and obligations. I gave them permission to go ahead and get my background check going and give me the weekend to make my decision. I decided to do it. Once I met Minsoo I knew I had made the right choice. He was such a sweet, smart, and fun young man. He was the perfect fit for our family. He brought us closer together by doing fun things together that we as a family had neglected to do. We had fun late night talks full of laughter. We learned a lot about his country and before we realized it we were creating a relationship that would stay with us for a lifetime. Minsoo’s parents would send him snacks and candies from his country and he would let us try them. My son Keaton and him became best friends. Minsoo’s family sent Keaton a t-shirt from Korea which meant a lot to him. He participated in soccer and we were able to attend some of his games. Because of some circumstances with Korea’s school year, he only got to be with us for 2 months. It was an awesome 2 months and we created the best memories that my family will treasure forever. I am so happy I made the decision to be a host parent!
Agreeing to Host Has Been a Life-Changing Experience
My family and I have hosted foreign exchange students with ISE. 1 from Thailand, 1 from Slovakia and 1 from Ecuador, all for 1 full school year each. I can not say enough just how this changed our world. We created an amazing bond with each student that expanded the base cultural knowledge not only of these exchange students but for our immediate and extended families as well. As much as you teach these students, these students also teach you in return. As a result of the wonderful relationships with these students, not only did we gain knowledge, but we have gained lifetime friendships that are amazing. Many of our family members have traveled to Slovakia and to Ecuador since we have hosted these students and these students have returned to visit with our family. When we opened our hearts, it opened our minds and it expanded our family forever. We are ever so thankful for the time that we had with these students! Thank you ISE for wonderful experiences.
My Family Loves the Experience
My family loves hosting students. We host 2 students at a time and it has been wonderful to see our kids learning to live with someone from totally different cultures. We have had boys and girls and they have been some of the nicest and well behaved young people we could have asked for. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who loves being around young people. They are very self-sufficient in every aspect and just need some love and attention to help guide them in the right direction. Saying goodbye at the end of their journey is always the hardest part. We are looking forward to our new kids coming in August and we know it will be awesome.
Hosting a Student Will Change Your Life
We have hosted 3 times between 2009 and 2015. Our first student came from Mexico with ISE. This experience changed our family forever. Through this exchange program, I gained children who I can now call my own. Even though they only stay for 10 months, they will always be mine. This experience opened our family to the possibility of adoption and as a result, we adopted a six-year-old boy who is originally from Ethiopia. We have learned so much about ourselves and the countries we have hosted from (Mexico and Spain). I cannot recommend it enough!
Why We Host
We began our experience last year (2016-2017) by hosting one girl. We picked her because she had a lot in common with our oldest daughter. After speaking with her, we fell in love! She was with us for about 6 weeks, we decided to add a second student, a boy. We had a family vote, including our student, and could not have done a better thing. We loved him immediately too. They were a great fit. We had so many laughs and there was so much joy in our home. Even though they went home, we still talk regularly. They are our kids, and their bio families are now our family as well. We hosted again this year (2017-2018), another boy and girl. We have had different experiences with these two, and again, we could not have found better kids. We have already picked our kid for next year…we can only host 1 next year…but I know that we are planning to continue every year, hosting kids from different countries. We are planning on visiting our kids all over the world. Our own kids have grown so much as individuals and they love having all of the exchange students around.
International Student Exchange (ISE) fulfills its mission of “Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders” by bringing together exchange students and volunteer host families. The ISE exchange program allows international students to become familiar with the American way of life by attending local high schools, experiencing authentic family life, and participating in community service. As a result, American host families also learn about foreign cultures and make lasting friendships with the students hosted in their homes and their families.
Why Choose International Student Exchange
ISE will never treat your experience as a one-time transaction. After all, you’re not buying a pair of shoes — you’re spending many months enrolled in a cultural exchange! As such, we offer an unparalleled level of care and support to all of our exchange students and host families. We have a fully-staffed support team, a 24/7 emergency hotline, and an online support community for our program participants.
A Non-Profit Mission
As a non-profit organization, ISE is dedicated mainly to providing wonderful cultural experiences for students and host families — at a cost that more students and their families can afford. Our mission is to bring the people of the world closer together, and our passionate network of volunteer host families makes this mission possible.
Dedication to Quality
ISE follows all rules and regulations set forth by the US Department of State. DOS compliance ensures your experience with us is safe and fun. ISE’s exchange program has also been granted a full-listing each year since our founding by CSIET (the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel), making it a safe choice for students and host families.
We provide a twelve-month, ten-month, first-semester, or second-semester program for international high school students. After students have been carefully screened for language, grades, and overall suitability for the program, we provide placement in public, or upon written request, private high schools. Our exchange students then live with a volunteer host family while they attend high school. We also offer various programs for American high school students to live with a vetted host family and study abroad internationally.
Doing More with ISE Gives Back
ISE Gives Back, our philanthropic program, is designed to provide support to those crucial organizations at home and abroad that create opportunities and lend assistance to children in need so that they can grow, participate, and thrive in the global community. Children Incorporated, our domestic partner, has worked diligently for 50+ years to assist impoverished children throughout all 50 states.
About Our Partners
ISE partners with international agencies in over 90 countries in order to facilitate quality programs for our exchange students. Each year, our trusted partners make it possible for thousands of exchange students to travel to the United States to live with a host family and experience the American way of life. We also maintain an affiliated office in China.
HOST A STUDENT
Global friendship starts with local action. Volunteer to host a student today!
JOIN OUR TEAM
Change the world, one family at a time. Apply to become an ISE Area Representative!