Good Things To Know...
Contact your student as soon as possible
Email or Facebook is best. And keep the conversation going! The more you know about each other, the easier it will be.
Keep your hospitality simple. Your student wants to be part of your family. Invite her into your normal family activities.
Nicknames Some students choose American names to use while they are in the US. Ask your student what she prefers to be called.
Introductions Please give your student a “tour” of your home. Students appreciate knowing where their space is and though they don't say it, they are curious about how you live.
Many times children are the open door to communication with your student. Conversing with children is sometimes easier and may remind your student of brothers or sisters back home. Your children’s lives are forever changed by the memories of the students you host.
Surrounded by peers at school, students are sometimes lonely for family life. Interacting with children is often more relaxing for students and may “substitute” for brothers and sisters back home.
Making Conversation It's amazing what can start a conversation. A photo album, a picture on the wall, a shared activity all might lead to greater understanding.
Be prepared for questions about our government and how it works, local history and major trends in American society. Don't be surprised if your student asks questions about your lifestyle and what Americans believe in and value.
Approach political discussions with delicacy and keeping in mind that the rest of the world often views American political and military activity very differently than we do. While neither we Americans, nor the foreign students are necessarily experts on the positions taken by our respective governments, we can learn a great deal by discussing what lies behind governmental actions and how we, as individuals, view particular events.
Many students are unaccustomed to having pets inside the home. Please restrain animals, keeping them at a distance until your student is ready to interact with them.
Students who pursue an overseas education are often the future leaders in their home countries. The relationships between hosts and students foster new appreciation for how others live and view the world. We learn “American Culture” as we grow to maturity and rarely consider it in our everyday lives. In fact, most of us tend to assume that our behavior and beliefs are universal and therefore, “natural.” Sometimes we unknowingly project cultural superiority through our speech, assumptions and practices. Accepting and respecting the differences in cultures helps build relationships with international students.
Sense of Time
Don’t be surprised if your student has a different concept of time than you do! Give your student ample warning about departure times and what time you expect them to be ready to leave. Many cultures are not as “clock conscious” as we Americans are, and a little communication can lessen frustration.
Meals Students are familiar with American cafeteria food and may not be aware of your family's mealtime practices. If you sing or pray together, be sure to explain the practice before hand. Keep meals simple and serve what you would ordinarily serve your family. If there are traditional foods, point them out. Most students are open to trying new foods. Get to know your student's food preferences and have snacks and foods available that you know they will enjoy.
Always speak slowly and clearly to your student without raising the volume of your voice. Try to avoid slang in your speech. If you do use local phrases, be sure to explain their meaning. If you are searching for a word, try drawing a picture or ask the student if they have an electronic dictionary you may use. These great little tools accept a typed word in one language and display the definition and corresponding word in another language. When talking with your student, please keep in mind how much energy it takes to speak in a language not your own. Many students mentally translate English into their native tongue for greater comprehension. For some students, conversational English is a mental workout that can leave them feeling tired.
Use of Computer/Phone
If a student requests to use your telephone, check that they are planning to use a phone card before they dial. Most students will ask before they use your computer. If you have any family rules about using the internet, be sure to ask your student to abide by them.
Keeping in Touch
Many students feel keenly the loss of their friends and relatives while they are away from home. Keeping in touch with your student after they leave your home is a wonderful way to be a friend and help fill that empty spot in their lives.
Invite your student to attend church and church activities with you. Many students are curious about how Americans practice religious faith. Be sure to tell your student what to expect and give him or her the option to decline your invitation if they are uncomfortable. While many students are vague about their personal religious practices, never, never push your student spiritually to convert to Christianity. The living example of you practicing your faith is worth more than multitude of words.