Q&A’s for High School Program

Hosting a high school exchange student is amazing. You get to share your family’s American way of life with a student from another culture, connect to your community in exciting new ways, and bring the world into your home. We partner with Nacel Open Door to help bring these amazing students to the USA for a 10 month high school program.

Can anyone host an international student? Any families who can provide a safe and stable home environment and wants to help a students dream for the “everyday American experiences,”  can host.  These experiences and memories are priceless to these students.


Can single people host an international student? Yes! Host family dynamics are diverse and varied, and you are welcome to apply regardless of your marital status. During this process, we will ask single person hosts for the names and relations of other adults who will also have an impact in the student’s life during their stay. It is also helpful if you can provide us examples of how the student will be able to interact and develop relationships with other teenagers while in your home.


We have small children in our home. Can we still host? Yes, many of our students have younger siblings at home and enjoy young children.


What are the students like that participates in this program? Just like host families, students have a wide range of interests, personalities and life goals. As a general rule, our students are young people who want to learn about the United States, American culture, and develop English language skills. Some students have international collegiate goals, and others are purely seeking the cultural experience. Students are screened and chosen based on their maturity, academic achievement, adaptability, and English capabilities.


How long do the students stay? The academic program aligns with school calendars: ten months. Students may attend a public or private school.


What are host families expected to provide? Your family provides a room, a place they can study (a dining room table works great),  and most importantly, a receptive and supportive family environment. Students may share a room with a family member (it can be an awesome experience) of the same gender and similar age, but they must have their own bed. We expect students to participate in the family, including having chores and other family responsibilities. Each student is responsible for his/her own spending money, which might include entertainment, clothing and souvenir expenses.


What type of home do I have to have? Students stay in various types and sizes of homes. We do require that your home is safe, well maintained, and clean, with adequate room to accommodate the student. When considering your space, realize that the student will need a quiet place to study, a bed of their own, and a place to keep their belongings.


How will we communicate? Do students speak English? All students who participate are required to meet a standard of English competency. Most have studied English for several years and are hoping to achieve a greater level of fluency. There may be some slang terms and regional dialect that you will need to help them with. Please keep in mind that during the initial adjustment, students may struggle with quick-thinking and responding in English. This should get better once the anxiety and excitement associated with their arrival begins to lessen and they are more comfortable in their new surroundings.


Can we host two students? Yes. Many families host two students at a time. Each student must have their own bed. In some cases, two international students of the same gender may be allowed to share a room with each other. In order to facilitate English fluency, we require that the students living in the same home speak different native languages.


How do we select the right student for our family? After your family has been approved to host, your local representative will either match you with a student or help you select a student from an available pool. 


How does the student get money for their expenses? Students typically bring money or a credit/debit card with them. The natural parents may also occasionally send international money orders to students during their stay. To avoid uncomfortable situations, we discourage host families from opening joint accounts with, and/or lending money to their international students. We do encourage you, however, to assist your student in setting up an individual bank account if they choose to do so.


Can the student have a job? No. Our students are in the country on an educational or cultural visa and therefore not allowed to work. However, babysitting, mowing lawns, and doing odd chores to earn extra money are allowed occasionally.


How will students call internationally? We encourage students to bring a phone card so they do not incur long distance bills on the host family phone. Some students may also choose to purchase a “pay-as-you-go” cell phone. We strongly discourage host families from adding a cell-phone line to their family plans or co-signing for a cell-phone contract with their student.

Are the students insured? Yes. Students are covered by health and accident insurance. They are given insurance information during their orientation, and we have an insurance coordinator available to students and host families should there be questions about coverage or claims.
Do I need to worry about student smoking or drugs? While on our program students are not allowed to smoke, even if they are of legal age to do so. Drugs and alcohol consumption are strictly prohibited. We expect our students to be models of good behavior and all students sign a code of conduct before participation in the program.
What do we do if we have a problem? We committed to our host families and students at all times. Each family has a local representative that they can contact with questions or concerns at any time.


How do you assure a quality experience? Our goal is that all families and students have a quality experience.

  • Student screening. Family Exchange, Nacel Open Door and our partners abroad carefully screen, and strive to accept only students that will be positive role models and successful international students.
  • Local representative. The local representative is screened and trained to: support a quality hosting experience and establish and manage good student-family matches. All host families are provided with an orientation to assure that you are well prepared for the experience, and your local representative will offer ongoing support and advice during the course of the program for you and the student.


Our family attends worship services. Will our student go with us? Not necessarily. As part of the application process, students are asked what religion they participate in, if any, and if they are willing to participate in this or other religious services during their stay. If it is important to your family that your student attends services with you, please work with your local representative to choose a student who is open to this. Attempting to convert a student to your religion during their stay is against the U.S. Department of State regulations and NOD policy. Many students, however, have participated in religious activities with their hosts and have enjoyed the opportunity to be involved without pressure to convert. Please allow your student to make this personal choice.


Can my student drive? No, because of the liability involved. Students are prohibited from driving any motorized vehicle while on program. This policy also includes driver education courses


Can the student travel with us? Yes. Students are able to travel with your family. Travel must be authorized, and the student’s location must be communicated. Because of visa requirements, travel outside of the U.S. can be more difficult. Thus, advance permission is required.


Do international students have the opportunity to get together while on the program? Local representatives will often times arrange parties and get-togethers for international students, and sometimes their host family members. For further information on this, please talk with your local representative.


If you have any other questions about hosting, please contact us at paula@myfamilyexchange.com