What does it mean to be an AFS host family?
A host family is the most important part of the AFS exchange. It is what makes the program what it is; an intercultural learning experience, where someone from a different culture is emerged into the ways of living of the host country by living with a family that is willing share their culture, language and customs with a new family member.
In your daily life, being a host family means;
- Providing all meals for the host student
- The student must have his own bed, but can share a room with a same-sex sibling
- Assisting with transport to/from school/project
- Most importantly: Including the host student in your family activities and provide the same care, support and comfort as you would for your own child
Being a host family cannot be for financial gain, but an allowance is given to the family as a help with the extra expenses, provided that the host student is given what is promised.
You can be a host family for several kinds of exchanges;
- Trimester program
- Semester program
- Year program
- Summer language program
Support from AFS
When hosting with AFS you are part of a support system that will help in case of problems. The host student, the Community Project Organization and the family gets a counselor, who will have contact with all three parties at least once a month to make sure the exchange is working out. In case of issues s/he acts as a mediator to help resolve the conflict.
In case the placement does not work out, AFS is responsible for finding a new family for the host student.
What does AFS provide?
- Informational interview at your home
- Orientation for families; preparing them for the arrival of the participant
- AFS arranges the project for the host student
- A counselor for both the student, CPO and the family
- Host family allowance
- Strong chapter structure, where families will know who to contact
- Experienced staff to help out in case of emergencies
Background of the host student
On a Community Service Program the host student can be 18-29 years old, but in most cases students leave on such an exchange after finishing their high school at age 18-19 years.
Money: Host students bring their own pocket money for expenses that are not covered by the host family
Medical coverage: The AFS insurance covers medical expenses and has a 24-hour emergency phone service
Language: All students have a basic proficiency in English, but is supposed to learn the local language as well
Community Project: The host student is required to attend his/her assigned community project according to the regulations of the project.
Rules: There are three basic rules all host students must abide by in order to complete the program without an early return;
1. No hitchhiking
2. No illegal drugs
3. No driving of motorized vehicles
Furthermore the host student must abide by the laws of the country and rules by AFS, such as travelling alone, for which they must obtain a permission from the office.
If you are not able to host right now...
There are other ways to be involved in the organization as a volunteer. Fill in the volunteer form and someone in your local chapter will contact you.