Host Family - Frequently Asked Questions
As you settle in let your exchange student know how to address you, i.e. Mom or Dad may feel unnatural, at least at first. Whatever you decide, it simply makes it easier for your student to talk with you. Be sure your student is able to meet all family members and have a chance to settle into his/her new living space. Other things to clarify early in the stay could be:
- Any food issues or concerns
- Individual responsibility for household chores
- Normal routines – meal times, bed times, study hours, regularly scheduled activities, internet/social media use, etc.
- Curfews and house keys
- Emergency contacts (both whom to call and what an emergency is)
- Local transportation
- Religious preferences or services
Family nuances will be absorbed over time, but a few minutes of plain talk early in the homestay will prevent unnecessary confusion or disagreement later.
Your Rotary club representatives, RYE representatives, and host family members generally greet the exchange student upon arrival. Remember that Inbound students may be exhausted from their travel and nervous about meeting you. Allow him/her a little time to adjust before forming rigid first impressions or planning extensive activities.
If you have children of a similar age in the home, encourage them to introduce your exchange student to their friends and to take him/her along to social events. Especially in the early days with the first family. It takes a little effort on everyone’s part to help the exchange student build a network of friends and acquaintances. Rotarians will help the best they can but are not typically involved in the student’s school and social life activities.
At a minimum, your student will be expected to take school and school activities seriously. They are here on an education visa, and in-person high school is a requirement of the U.S. Department of State. They are enrolled in school full-time. Your student’s Host Rotary club will have made the necessary arrangements for them to attend school, but it is your responsibility to help the student take full advantage. It may mean counseling a student not to over-enroll in academic courses, helping them balance academic and extracurricular activities, etc. this balancing will usually provide the best exchange experience for the student. You’re encouraged to call the school’s guidance counselor if you need help. Most, if not all, have experience with exchange students at their school.
Rotary requires a Statement of English Proficiency from all Inbound exchange students. However, when they arrive in the USA hearing everyone speaking English can be very different from taking English classes and being considered proficient on an educational level. In the early days, particularly for the first host family, there may be some language barriers. Many Inbound students speak multiple languages and while they’ve studied English have not had much experience speaking. Take your time and enjoy the process. Explain idiosyncrasies and encourage your student to ask questions. Have them teach you some words in their language!
It is almost certain your student will experience occasional homesickness. This is absolutely normal and not a reflection on you, your family, or home life. Being on your own in a new country is exhausting. Time, patience, and some gentle distractions will usually help. If the problem persists or seems to deepen, reach out to your student’s Rotary Counselor and/or your Host Club’s YEO for guidance and help.
One of the RYE strengths is the student’s opportunity to experience family life with two or three families. The first move may be a bit of a shock. The student will have formed a strong bond with the first family. It’s helpful for the first family to let the student and the second family have a little time getting acquainted before the move. Having dinner together or an afternoon outing together can be very helpful. Make a special effort to be understanding of the student’s feeling and provide guidance and support as they make the move. That being said, most times both (if two families) or all (if three families) become very close with each other and the student. There is a support system that naturally forms.
This would depend on the level of the emergency. If you consider it a Rotary related emergency your Rotary line of contact for your student should be: Host club Counselor (Inbound Counselor), Club YEO, and the RYE Chairperson.
In a normal emergency situation, police, fire, etc. would be contacted first as you’d expect. In this case, you would contact your student’s Inbound Counselor, YEO and RYE chair immediately as soon as it is safe to do so.
Yes. Students are required to have health and emergency travel insurance before arriving in the USA. All host families are provided with the information and all students have an insurance ID they carry at all times. The RYE officers and your students Inbound Counselor are available to help with insurance questions and/or matters.
You should also be aware of Rotary expectations. There are definite rules the students have to follow. Training on these is provided in their home country before they travel to the USA and provided again during Orientations provided shortly after their arrival. No disrespect, driving, dating, drinking, drugs, or disfigurements are allowed. The District 5180 RYE Committee enforces these rules with input and assistance from the student’s Host Club representatives and the Host family. Students can be sent home early should they break rules and/or be disruptive while here on their exchange. During Orientation Host families receive more details.
Yes. There are two special forms that are signed by the exchange student and their natural parents in this case. We have many students that have stayed in single parent or single person homes.