The Boundless Benefits of Becoming a Host Family

The Boundless Benefits of Becoming a Host Family

Host families do more than just share their homes and hearts. In fact, host families often gain as much from the exchange experience as the student does. Benefits of hosting are really boundless, and we have shared a few here we believe are encompassing of the host family experience.

Experience a new culture.

Cultural exchange is a key point in student exchange and perhaps even vital to understanding global interactions. Inviting exchange students into your home and community is an opportunity to learn and to teach. Having exposure to new cultures, languages and ideas helps expand knowledge, accept differences and opens the door for communication and friendships.

See life from a new perspective.

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often miss the little things. Hosting an exchange student is a tangible way to pause for a moment and take everything in. Having a new set of eyes see your daily life through allows you to break routine and really appreciate life.

Find a new mentor, friend, and sibling for your kids.

Children already see the world from a different perspective and inviting an exchange student is an opportunity to learn about someone different from their own family. Younger children will have an incredible mentor and older sibling to learn from and older children will have a new friend to share experiences and school with. No matter the age, the lessons learned and the memories shared between your children and exchange students are invaluable.


Exchange students who come to the U.S. to study don’t need a lot of things, excursions or special treatment. But what they do need is you! They need a supportive and safe “home away from home.” A place they can truly be themselves, which includes all of the warmhearted fumbles and candid moments, which can turn into the fondest memories.

Stay connected.

We often hear from host families who keep in contact with the student they hosted well beyond the dates of the program. These friendships span over several continents and are one of the most profound parts of student exchange. Whether, sending a text, mailing a holiday card or even visiting a student in their home country, host families are truly connecting the world through education and culture.

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Happy Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year is a time to get together with family and celebrate the coming year! This year consider hosting an exchange student and make this year a great one for your family! Create memories and build lifelong friendships, enrich your entire family as you learn about the culture of your new ’son’ or ‘daughter’, and become an American ambassador by sharing U.S. culture.


Create something special for your family! Find a family and exchange student tested and approved fortune cookie recipe below!

Fortune Cookies

Total Time: 1 hr 24 min
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 24 min
Makes about 20 cookies


  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Cut a stencil out of a plastic coffee can lid in the shape of a 3-inch disk.
  • Whip the egg whites until stiff and chill.
  • In a mixer, cream the butter, then add the sugar and continue mixing.
  • Add the flour and blend in, then add the vanilla and blend again.
  • Add the chilled egg whites and mix on low until well incorporated and the batter is smooth.
  • With a small offset spatula, spread batter through the stencil so it is a circle onto parchment paper, about 6 per cookie sheet.
  • Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until light golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Quickly remove the pan from the oven and one at time place a fortune across the center with a bit hanging out.
  • Fold cookie circle in thirds over fortune with flaps only slightly overlapping each other.
  • Turn over and bring opposing sides together and pinch. Let cool.
  • Enjoy!


Wishing you and your family good fortune and a happy new year!

-Your Student Ambassador Exchange Team

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7 Ways New Years Is Celebrated Internationally

As 2018 comes to a close, many countries tend to lie on many traditions or superstitions to give them a boost in their wellbeing for the next year to come. Although these methods are not yet proven to work, we do suggest you TRY THIS AT HOME. Joint many other cultures in bringing in 2019.


Look into adding a little sweetness to your celebration. In Spain and many other Latin American countries, eat 12 grapes within the last 12 seconds of the year. Each grape holds one wish. so make sure you are quick to eat, and quick to quick to think!


Red is used in various traditions. From giving children red envelopes filled with money to children, red lanterns given to couples and much more. All for the purpose to bring in luck and happiness!


Looking to see how you can improve your wardrobe for the new year!? It is a superstition that wearing new clothes with red underwear into the New Year will bring you good luck! #luckyunderwear


Looking to head to the beach this New Year? Especially in the coasts of Brazil, one will jump 7 waves and each wave will bring 7 wishes for the New Years. Make sure you bring a towel an extra clothes!

Colombia and many other Latin American Countries: 

Are you looking to get away and travel within the upcoming year!? Right after the New Year festivities, people will pack a full suitcase and drive around to bring fourth travel within the year.


As well move to 2019, are you looking to place your worries behind you? The locals here will jump out of their seat all together to represent leaving negative things and moving forward.

Puerto Rico:

Looking to come to a clean 20119? The locals here will clean everything and I mean everything. Everything must come clean from the inside of the home to the outside, and even the roadways in order to get rid of any negativities.

We wish you the best of luck, peace, happiness, and anything else you are looking towards 2019.

Consider hosting an international student in 2019 to bring you the best of everything for 2019.

Contact – Happy New Years!


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Elections Around the World

It’s election day in America! Whether you voted early or are planning on casting your ballot today, we all have a say in what our government will look like over the next two years. Exchange students who are spending the year here have the unique opportunity to see democracy in action. For some perspective, we took a look at what elections are like in their home countries.


Every four years, Spanish citizens vote to elect representatives in the Senate and the Congress of Deputies. The Prime Minister is traditionally chosen from the party that holds the most seats in Congress. There are also regional and municipal elections every four years, but those dates can vary. Many regions hold their elections the May before a leap year (so the next election would be in May 2019), but others choose their own election dates and as a result their voting years vary. Separately, they also vote to send members to the European Parliament.


Chinese citizens have a chance to vote in local elections, and their votes impact how leaders of the country are chosen. Every five years, they vote for their Local People’s Congress. In turn, the Local People’s Congresses elect members of the Local People’s Government. The Local People’s Government in turn votes for members of the National People’s Congress, and the National People’s Congress is responsible for selecting the National People’s Government.

With each country having elections that are so different, it’s possible that exchange students will be a little confused watching the results come in. This is a great opportunity for them to learn about voting and elections, and also what it means to be American. Our right to vote is something that we as Americans treasure, regardless of party alliances. While hosting an exchange student involves sharing in the little things like family traditions, shared recipes, and the differences in everyday life, this is one of the few opportunities to share in something big. Getting to watch an election from a foreign country gives students an inside look at what it means to be an American.

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SAE Staff Interview: Meet Deir!

We are excited to welcome our newest Program Coordinator to the SAE team! Since he came to the United States as an international student from Mexico, Deir has an inside perspective on what many of our exchange students are feeling as they come into the United States. We sat down to ask him a few questions about his experience:

What was it like to come to the US as a college student?

“It was pretty cool – I think it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It helped to have an open mind and open heart to try everything. It definitely paid off!”

What has surprised you the most about American culture?

“Americans seem to need so much space!”

What was the biggest culture shock you felt?

“Going to college in Missouri, there was a huge lack of awareness about authentic Mexican food. There were restaurants that claimed to be authentic and they definitely were not.”

What have been your favorite and least favorite things about living in the United States?

“One of my favorite things has been the security that comes with living here. Also, Americans seem more open minded to different cultures and more willing to talk to strangers and I like that. My least favorite thing is transportation. Where I’ve lived it’s been hard to get around and public transportation has been lacking compared to other places around the world.”

What’s one thing you think people should know about international students?

“One big misconception I found was that people often assume you are immediately well aware of the culture and able to get along with no problems. It’s an adjustment, and I think it’s important for people to understand that about exchange students.”

For more information on how you can get involved in our programs, reach out to us at today!

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Traditions Around the World: Mid-Autumn Festival in China

From time to time, we like to feature holidays celebrated in some of the countries our students come from. Since the Mid-Autumn festival was celebrated on September 24 in China, we wanted to dive a little deeper to give you a little more information on the holiday!

As the fall season approaches, there is a certain feeling of excitement in the air. This is all the more true for an exchange student who is also getting used to life in a brand new country.  This season is full of countless opportunities for students to encounter new traditions. Visiting a pumpkin patch, picking apples, playing in the falling leaves, and cheering on your favorite football team are all activities that we might associate with fall in the United States.  Regardless of how your family enjoys fall together, hosting an exchange student is a great way to see your traditions through new eyes.

Fall is an exciting time in China as well, as the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches.  It is also known as the Moon Festival, signifying the fact that the moon is at its brightest during this time of year.   This festival has been celebrated for centuries with the purpose of gathering close friends and family together to give thanks for a successful harvest and pray for longevity and a prosperous future.  Festivities include lighting lanterns, spending time with family members, and eating mooncakes  –  round cakes typically filled with a red bean paste.

Exchange students from all countries come with different traditions and holidays. One of the best parts of hosting a student is you get to celebrate new holidays while introducing them to your own. Whether you’re trying your first mooncake or getting your student excited to go to their very first high school pep rally, fall is an exciting time for both host families and students.

We are going to be hosting informational webinars this fall for anyone who may be interested in hosting an exchange student. Families who have been interested but have lots of questions – this is for you! Please join us for one of our two first webinars on Tuesday, October 23 and Thursday, October 25.

To register for the October 23 webinar (at 6:00 PM CDT), click here.

To register for the October 25 webinar (at 4:00 PM CDT), click here. 

If you have any questions before then, we’d love to talk to you! Simply send an email to and a Program Coordinator will contact you.

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Rainy Day Activities

Down in Texas, we’re full of ideas for outdoor summer activities. Whether we’re hiking, playing sports, or cooling off in the water, there’s never a shortage of fun things to do. So when last week met us with days of rainy weather, we were at a bit of a loss. One of our students, Elaine, absolutely adores rainy weather. She explained to us that rainy days are “very comfortable, especially in the summer to slow down the dry heat. Rainy days are suitable for thinking, and people’s minds become calm. The rainy season in my hometown is wonderful.” We’re a little less enthusiastic about the rain, so we came up with a list of activities that host families could do with their exchange students despite the gloomy weather.

  1. Make scrapbooks together! The year is going to go by faster than you can both believe it. Making scrapbooks is a great way to spend time together collecting memories, and when your student goes home you will both have something to look back on all of the good times with.
  2. Family scavenger hunt: You can either look for uncommon objects around the house or go to a local shopping center. This is a great way to keep everyone moving despite being cooped up indoors, and it’s also a good opportunity for your student to pick up some new vocabulary while looking for items on their list.
  3. Watch your favorite movies: Watching movies and TV is a great way for students to strengthen their English while also getting to relax. Beyond that, you can learn more about each other by watching movies that are important to you.
  4. Get cooking: Food is a great way to connect with another culture while getting to enjoy a tasty treat. Whether you’re decorating cookies, preparing specialties from your student’s home country, or teaching your student how to make some of your favorite dishes, you’re bound to bond while having fun.

Rainy days can definitely drag on, but you’ll never run out of opportunities to connect with your exchange student and form a strong relationship. We are still matching students for the 2018-19 school year. They’re excited to come to America and experience so many new things, regardless of the weather. To learn more about these students, check out our photolisting or reach out to us at today!

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Why Study in America?

Every year, an increasing amount of students choose to study abroad. A U.S. News & World Report study showed that the number of students obtaining an education abroad had grown from 2.1 million in 2001 to 4.6 million in 2017. During that time period, the United States has remained the top destination for international students. For students who want to learn English, there are many different countries to choose from. And yet, more than other English speaking countries, students choose America. While we get ready to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, we thought it would be fun to hear from our students who will be arriving this fall what makes them excited to come here!

Ana, from Spain: I have chosen the USA because people are open minded and I like the hospitality that Americans have. I also want to go and improve my English and have good experiences there. I want to live with an American family because my friends who have gone had a good experience.

Ed, from China: I’ve heard American food is delicious. I hope I’ll taste some homemade American food!

Astrid, from China: The reason why I chose to go to America is I like the American culture, and I like the open and free attitude of American people. I want to learn English well and learn more about American culture.

As we take time to celebrate America, we also reflect on how we are seen around the world. Diplomacy begins and ends with people crossing cultures and borders to get to know each other. Hosting one exchange student might feel like an insignificant act in the grand scheme of international relations, but every single student returns home from their program with a new view of their host country, and this view spreads to everyone they interact with at home. By hosting an exchange student, families have a real opportunity to impact the future of diplomacy between America and the rest of the world. As exchange students continue to come to the United States to learn firsthand about our culture, we will continue to be grateful to the families, teachers, and individuals who take it upon themselves to show them what it means to be American.

For more information on how to get involved, reach out to or check out our photolisting and get to know our students!

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Goodbye, 2017-18 Students!

June is always a bittersweet time in the office. As we get excited for our new students to arrive, we also have to say goodbye to the students who have made the US their home over the last 10 months. It’s hard to believe that only last year they were preparing for this experience. We thought it would be fun to read the letters they wrote before arriving and see how they changed and grew through the experience. We’ve highlighted three students below:

“I’ve been to America before, but then I didn’t have much knowledge about your culture. So I’d take this precious chance to experience American culture and learn what I’ve never learned before.” – Elaine

Elaine thoroughly enjoyed learning about American culture over the year – ESPECIALLY celebrating holidays the American way! She dressed up for Halloween with her siblings and wrote her host parents and grandparents thank you notes at Thanksgiving. She even wrapped presents for her host family for Christmas and filmed the whole process!







“I hope I can be a bridge over the two cultures and contribute to the cultural exchange of the two.” – Andrew
Andrew experienced so many American events – attending a livestock show, going to prom, and posing for a holiday photo with his host siblings. But, true to his letter, he gave as much as he got! From cooking Chinese food for his host family to teaching his host brother Mandarin, Andrew became a bridge between Chinese culture and American culture and formed a bond that will last for years to come!




“I’ve always wanted a little sister since I was a child but I never had one – just my big brother and even though we get on really well, I’ve always missed another girl in my house.” – Irati

Irati hoped for a little sister and wound up spending the school year with two little sisters AND a little brother! She thoroughly enjoyed all the time she spent with them. From watching sporting events together to traveling across the country on family vacations, she’s fully embraced her host family and gets to count them as members of her extended family!



While we are sad to say goodbye, we are excited for our new students to arrive! In a few months, they’ll have the chance to live out everything they wrote about before arrival. We can’t wait to hear about them watching their first football game, picking out Halloween costumes, and teaching their host families about where they’re from.

If you are interested in joining one of our students on the adventure of a lifetime, visit our photolisting and learn about the students who are still available to be hosted! Reach out to with any questions!

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Announcing ACE – A New Exchange Program!

Participating in exchange programs carries many benefits, such as learning about a new culture and acquiring or improving a new language. Working with our students from around the world, we have seen this firsthand. While one of the more obvious goals is for students to learn about a new culture, they also wind up learning so much about themselves. It has been such an honor to play a small role in this personal growth for students coming to the US, and we look forward to doing so for years to come. However, we’re also passionate about giving that opportunity to students in America who are curious to learn more about themselves and world around them. That’s why we are so excited to be launching ACE – our very first outbound exchange program!

What is ACE?

We are thrilled to be returning to our roots for ACE, which stands for Adoptee Cultural Exchange. Alongside our parent company, Great Wall China Adoption, we have partnered with a leading international adoption agency in Spain to create an exchange opportunity between Chinese adoptees living in the United States and Spain.

The exchange will take place this summer. First, American children will travel to enjoy 3 weeks in Spain. They will live with a family who has also adopted from China. Then, children from both countries will return to the United States to share another 3 weeks of vacation together. Through 6 weeks of summer fun, each child has the opportunity to share feelings and experiences with another child who has traveled the same journey as them. The children will be hosted in homes where adoption and everything it entails is treated as normal.

International adoption can involve confusion in identity and belonging for the child. Experiencing a new culture will allow the adoptees to better internalize that difference is positive and enriching. In their daily lives, they are accustomed to experiencing cultural similarity and physical differences. With ACE, the similarities will be physical and the differences cultural. It is our hope that this will aid the children in their process of cultural and ethnic identification.

Program Details

This program is open to any Chinese adoptee between the ages of 14 and 19. The American children will travel to Spain on July 2, 2018. They’ll return to the US with their Spanish counterpart on July 23. The Spanish children will remain until August 12. 

Families will pay a fee of $2,500. This includes program facilitation, insurance, flights, room and board for the child while in Spain, and 24/7 support from GWCA and ACI.

Questions? Click here for more information or to receive a copy of our info packet. We are so excited to be starting this journey and hope that you will join us!

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