When you know you’ll be a host family, start getting to know your student right away. Send them a friendly email or letter introducing your family, home, town, and school. Share photos too! If the student hasn’t arrived, invite them to visit before moving in. Familiarity helps them feel more comfortable and be themselves.
Meeting at the Airport
Make plans to meet your student at the airport when they arrive. It shows you’re excited to have them as part of your family. If you can’t go, meet them as soon as possible. You could have a welcome party or invite them for dinner or an event. The sooner they feel comfortable with you, the more fun you’ll have together.
Letting Parents Know
The first host family or Youth Exchange Officer (YEO) should help the student notify their parents that they’ve arrived safely. The student can email or call, and it’s a nice gesture if you cover the call cost. They can use collect calls, calling cards, or reimburse you later.
Give your student their own bed and a quiet space to study. A separate room is nice but not necessary. Some students prefer privacy when feeling homesick, while others like sharing a room with a host sibling to bond. Adapt to your family’s situation and make them feel at home.
Getting Started in Your Family
Exchange students need guidance to fit into your family’s routines. Have a family conference soon after they arrive to explain how your family does things differently. Ask and answer questions to help them adjust. You can find “First Night Questions” in different languages at www.yeoresources.org.
The Youth Exchange Officer (YEO) is responsible for handling important documents like the Certificate of Immunization Status, round-trip airline tickets, passport copies, and insurance records. A revolving fund of cash or travelers’ checks should be deposited in a bank account controlled by the YEO.
First Few Days
Students may experience jet lag and exhaustion upon arrival, so it is important to be considerate and allow them time to rest. Arrangements should be made with the current host family for the transition to the new home. Conferences, such as father/son and mother/daughter conferences, may be held on the second day to discuss various topics like hygiene, grooming, appropriate dress, and dating.
Conferences – Father/Son and Mother/Daughter
In the Father/Son Conference, important topics discussed include hygiene, grooming, appropriate dress, social equality, and guidelines for successful and respectful dating. The Mother/Daughter Conference covers topics such as hygiene, proper use of cosmetics, understanding the dating system, and adherence to Rotary rules regarding love affairs and serious dating. These conferences aim to ensure that exchange students are well-informed about cultural norms and expectations in the host district.
Making the Student a Real Family Member
Treating the student as a family member rather than a guest or servant is essential. Students should be included in all aspects of family life, engaged in conversations, and given responsibilities within the household. Communication and integration are vital to ensuring the student feels accepted and valued.
Family and School Preparation
Before the student’s arrival, the first host family should prepare for school enrollment. This includes finding out the student’s counselor, reviewing academic standing, planning classes, and ensuring necessary immunization records are provided. A walk-through of the school should be arranged to familiarize the student with the campus layout, locker use, classrooms, restrooms, and other facilities.
The First School Days
Students usually start school at the beginning of a term, and it is important to provide adequate time for adjustment. Language barriers may pose challenges, and supportive measures like recording classes or communicating with teachers can help the student catch up. Fall orientations and meetings may also be organized to help students acclimate, socialize, and understand program rules.
Monitoring Your Student’s School Performance
It is essential to closely monitor your student’s academic performance during their exchange. Stay in touch with their teachers, attend school events, and request periodic updates or grade reports. Promptly address any attendance or academic issues to ensure a successful exchange experience.
Is School Really That Important?
School is crucial during the exchange program as students are expected to benefit from the educational experience. While Rotary events are important, they should not interfere with school functions. Avoid unnecessary travel during school time and prioritize attendance and achievement. Seek guidance from your Rotary Counselor and Youth Exchange Officer if needed.
Rotary District 5010 seeks students with leadership qualities, an open-minded attitude, and a solid moral compass. We offer scholarships for students aged 15 to 17 to study abroad for a year through our Youth Exchange program or participate in our Short Term Summer program.