Why Host an Exchange Student?
When you host an international exchange student with ISE, you’re doing more than making his or her dream come true. As a host family, you also:
- Enrich your family, local high school, and community with valuable new ideas and perspectives.
- Increase the mutual understanding between people of different cultures.
- Encourage peaceful relationships between the United States and other countries around the world.
- Create meaningful friendships for yourself, your family, and the people in your community.
- Help educate the leaders of tomorrow so that they may develop into service-minded, well-rounded global citizens.
How Do I Become a Host Family?
Complete our host family interest form to receive more information, connect with a local ISE representative, and meet exchange students who are awaiting a host family in your area.
Complete Your Host Family Application
Fill out our host family application so that we can get to know a little bit more about you, your family, and your lifestyle. The more detail you provide, the easier it is to match you with your perfect student.
Choose Your Exchange Student
Once your application is accepted, you’ll be able to work with a local representative to select the best exchange student for your family. Your representative will assist you in finding a compatible match based on your lifestyle, family dynamics, hobbies, and interests.
How Do I Become a Successful Host Family?
Our volunteer host families welcome high school exchange students into their homes and treat them as part of the family. These exchange program hosts represent the diversity of American life. Each brings their own unique, valuable perspective to our students. Wondering what it takes to succeed at hosting an exchange student? Here are a few tips to help host families prepare for a successful exchange program.
Read more about preparing for a successful exchange program in our article, Tips for Preparing for Your Exchange Program.
Make Your Introductions
Once matched with an exchange student, don’t delay in getting to know one another! Starting a dialogue before your student’s arrival will set the stage for a smooth, happy adjustment to life in your family. Email, social media, and international messenger apps are great ways to get started!
Treat Your Student as a Member of Your Family
Our cultural exchange students are not guests; they are family members. Adjusting to life in your family and contributing to the household is a vital part of the exchange program. Students participate in family meals and activities, obey house rules, help with chores, attend your local high school, and put forth an effort to learn about your way a life while sharing their own.
Take Advantage of the ISE Support Network
To ensure our host families have the best hosting experience possible, ISE provides a dedicated local representative who will be there for you every step of the way. ISE also has a 24-hour hotline, online host family community, and full-time program support department.
Host Family Testimonials
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 international “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 international students for all the money in the world. My exchange “kids” are special to me! And I love going to their homes to visit! – Susan D.
“For us, we don’t just treat our students like they are visitors — to us, they are our children”…continue reading
“We actually attended our exchange daughter’s prom in Germany after our program ended. We went to celebrate her graduation there with our whole family and hers!”
“Sharing our culture, customs, family & home with our student while learning about their way of life is so much fun! It helps our 12-year-old daughter learn as well. Can’t imagine not doing it!”
“One month after our exchange student left, our daughter traveled to Spain to visit with her and her family. They missed each other so much! This was 2 years ago and they still talk almost daily. “
“My husband and I are retired and this experience so far has been amazing. We will definitely host next year and our student this year is talking about coming back to visit after she graduates in her country next year. She will always have a home here when she is in America.”
“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!”
What is Hosting an Exchange Student Like?
Hear from an ISE host family who, in 2015, invited a girl they had never met to live with them for 9 months.
“We were incredibly nervous, to say the least! We are so glad we decided to be a host family. We hosted our exchange student, from the Czech Republic, for the 2015-2016 school year through ISE (International Student Exchange.) It is an experience I am so glad we had.”
To hear more, watch the video!
Host Family Frequently Asked Questions
Host Family Requirements
- Treat your student like a family member, not a guest. He or she should have the same privileges and obligations as your own children.
- Exercise supervisory and parental responsibility to ensure the student’s well being.
- Provide a quiet place in the home where the student can study.
- Provide a room with an exit window, bed, and storage with no more than one roommate of the same sex.
- Provide three meals per day. Note: If the student chooses to buy lunch at school rather than bring from home, they are responsible for the cost.
- Cooperate with ISE by adhering to program regulations, guidelines, and policies (regular progress reports, home visits, etc.)
- Acknowledge the student’s birthday and other special occasions.
- Ensure the student knows how to contact family members, friends, and other support networks.
- Host families are not expected to help students apply to US schools or drive students to college test preparation services or campus visits.
Steps to Host a Foreign Exchange Student:
- Contact International Student Exchange and complete our host family interest form
- We will then send you more information, as well as our host family application. This will allow you to tell us about your family, household and lifestyle.
- Since safety is our priority, all potential host families must pass a background check and home check.
- Once accepted, you will be able to work with a localarea representativeto select an exchange student.
Are Host Families Paid?
No, all of our host families are volunteers. Families are eligible for a tax deduction for hosting a student.
If you are looking for paid opportunities within the ISE exchange program, consider becoming an Area Representative.
For more information on our J-1 exchange program, visit j1visa.state.gov
About Our Exchange Students
ISE exchange students are 15-18-year-old high school students from over 40 countries around the world. Their program acceptance is based on their English skills, demeanor, adaptability, and eagerness to experience American culture.
Meet Our Exchange Students
Our students come from over 90 countries around the world. They are eager to learn about your way of life and share their culture with you. Follow one of our international exchange students and her host family as they give us a glimpse into what our high school exchange program is all about.
Host Family Articles
You can learn more about our exchange programs on our blog. There, you’ll find stories, testimonials, news, and videos from host families and exchange students across the country. Visit the ISE Blog.
7 Reasons to Host an Exchange Student
Each year, ISE unites exchange students from all over the world with volunteer host families. Here’s why they do it. Read More
Can I Get Paid to Host an Exchange Student?
Families often choose to participate in a volunteer exchange program is because they want the opportunity to experience another culture as well as share their own. Read More.
Why Small Towns are Perfect for Exchange Students
Some families are concerned that their town might not have enough excitement for an international visitor. Here are a few reasons why small towns are perfect for hosting exchange students. Read More.
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!
Explore a new culture and experience a new way of life. Become an exchange student!