As an ISE host mom in Louisiana, Sarah Stanford noticed a slight problem. \u201cAt the time there wasn\u2019t a rep locally,\u201d she said. \u201cWhenever ISE had issues, they didn\u2019t have someone nearby, or, in their mind and my mind, someone close enough. I was asked why didn\u2019t I consider becoming a rep.\u201d So she did \u2014\u00a0first, in 2014, as the area representative in the Bayou region, then, as she began surpassing her placement goals, as the regional manager. Stanford also works in local elementary schools as a substitute teacher, and was recently offered a position as a permanent aide \u2014 a job she turned down, due to her work with ISE. \u201cWorking with ISE gives me the flexibility to where I can still help out part time at the schools. I\u2019m pretty constant in the kindergarten hall, but I\u2019m all throughout elementary, from Pre-K to fifth grade.\u201d Related:\u00a0The 4 Best Perks of Being an ISE Area Representative Stanford first hosted Andrea, an 18-year-old student from Mexico. \u201cShe was very social and very confident,\u201d she said. \u201cShe was wonderful with my children. She was a cheerleader. She\u2019s come back to visit \u2014\u00a0her whole family has come to visit.\u201d Ana, a 16-year-old from Brazil, was Stanford\u2019s second student. She was, in Stanford\u2019s words, \u201ca typical teenager.\u201d \u201cWe kind of butted heads . But I just treated her like I would treat my own child if an issue arose. We are extremely close. We talk probably two to three times a week, if not more. When she makes a life decision, she calls her parents, and then she calls me. I truly thought we wouldn\u2019t be as close, because we did have some issues.\u201d It was that tension, however, that created such a bond between the two. It caused Ana, now a college student, to respect Stanford as she would her mom \u2014 because, at the end of the day, that is what host moms are: parents. \u201cIt\u2019s crazy, because I have tons of messages from her,\u201d Stanford said. \u201cShe will say, \u2018I made this choice, and it\u2019s because you taught me to be confident in myself, to not worry about being different.\u2019\u201d Stanford currently is readying her home for her seventh student. It was after hosting Andrea and Ana, however, that she became a rep, and began working for ISE in the traditional sense. Area representatives for ISE are in charge of finding host families, then ensuring that those families have undergone background checks and are able to provide quality homes for students. Related:\u00a05 Tips for Hosting an Exchange Student Throughout the year, Stanford and other reps meet with the students and families, to make sure that everything is going smoothly, and that both parties are happy and safe. \u201cWhat I also like to do is, every other month, go to the schools and meet with the student. In my opinion, if you meet with a kid in the home, they are going to be less likely to tell you if something is going on. School is a safe zone. They know they are safe there.\u201d The Louisiana Department of State allows ISE reps and managers to be 120 miles from a student. To Stanford, that is too far. With children of her own, family obligations might prevent her from travelling long distances, should the need arise. Should she place a student in a home that proves itself to be not easily reached by Stanford personally, she will give up that student to a rep on her team who lives close by. Stanford also has to make sure that host families are hosting for the right reasons. Hosting is a selfless task \u2014\u00a0it\u2019s about giving, not receiving. It\u2019s also a job that requires the ability to set boundaries, create rules \u2014\u00a0and to stick by them. \u201cThe number one mistake I see host families make is treating kids like a guest when they arrive,\u201d she said. \u201cThat is the worst thing I think a family can do.\u201d Being treated like a biological son or daughter might come as a bit of a shock to students, who may be expecting a nearly year-long vacation, but in the long run, Stanford said, it works out for the best. It allows students to thrive and mature \u2014\u00a0and feel safe \u2014\u00a0with the knowledge that they are to behave themselves as they would at home in their native country, with expectations and obligations and familial duties. \u201cAs a host mom, I tell that I am going to treat them just the way I treat my kids. They aren\u2019t a guest. If they leave a shirt on the floor, I\u2019m going to tell them to pick it up. If I treat them like a guest for the first three months, and then October rolls around and that shirt is still being thrown on the floor, I\u2019m going to start holding a grudge. And so are they. Treat students like a part of your family. And communicate. They\u2019re teenagers; they cannot read your mind, and you cannot read theirs.\u201d But that\u2019s not to say being a host mom doesn\u2019t have its benefits, its joys. Overwhelmingly, the experience is a positive one for all involved. \u201cFor me personally, I know that as much as I would love to take my children all over the world, chances are they\u2019re not going to go everywhere. This was a chance for them to experience world travel without me taking them These girls who came to my home spoke different languages, had completely different backgrounds. My kids loved them.\u201d To her kids \u2014\u00a0a son and two daughters, aged ten, eight, and five \u2014\u00a0this diversity has become the norm. They have, through the ISE program, essentially received new siblings, just as Stanford has received new children. The experience had opened their minds, cultured them, allowing them to grow into a respect for the world around them, to understand not only peoples\u2019 differences, but, more importantly, their similarities. That, Stanford said, is a priceless gift, and is something that cannot easily be found. We invite you to read more about what it is like to work with us. If you have specific questions about the area representative role, check out our Area Representative FAQ page. Still on the fence? Complete our Area Representative interest form and one of our regional managers will get in touch with you to answer your questions and to help you get started. In addition to working in the student exchange industry, we like to encourage everyone to explore the option of becoming a volunteer host family to host an exchange student.