The Departments of State and Education declared last week to be International Education Week. We like to think that we celebrate this every week, but we welcome the occasion to reflect on our experiences and appreciate all the good that can come from international exchanges.
International Education Week celebrates the ways that study abroad programs enrich lives all around the world. From the American students that go abroad and the foreign students that travel here to the host families around the world that open their homes to these students, each participant is forever changed. International education strengthens our global ties, and teaches younger generations to look beyond their own countries and interact with the world around them. Host families are vital to these exchanges. By opening their doors to students they have never met before, they are showing kindness that will forever be remembered when the student thinks of the United States. On a small scale this may seem insignificant – just a friendly interaction. However, on a larger scale, this makes a big difference in the world of international relations.
Many of us at Student Ambassador Exchange had the opportunity to study abroad. One of the most rewarding aspects of the exchange was getting to visit historical sites and have a personal experience with events that shaped our world history. From climbing pyramids in Mexico to walking where the Berlin Wall once separated Germany, these experiences gave us an education that a textbook could never offer. We believe it is vital that students around the world have access to these experiences. We are proud to play a small role in helping students go abroad and go beyond a typical education. In closing, we think First Lady Michelle Obama describes the importance of international education best: “Investing in the potential of all young people, through access to a well-rounded, world class global education, is an investment in our collective future.” To all students, teachers, host families, and people who have played a role in helping us facilitate these exchanges: thank you for your investment.
For more information on International Education Week, visit the official website: http://eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/international-education-week
If you’re considering hosting an exchange student, you probably have a lot of questions. To help you decide if becoming a host family is the right decision for you, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequent questions we receive from potential host families. We understand that every situation is unique, so please feel free to call us to get some more personalized information about hosting.
What is the difference between the J-1 hosting program and the F-1 homestay program?
We think both of our programs are great, but there are some differences that you should consider before deciding to apply for either one.
The J-1 program is our biggest program, and we are recruiting host families all over the country for that. Students who apply for this program will be enrolled at the public school closest to your house. If that school does not have room, they will be placed at a different high school somewhere in your school district. The J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program was designed by the Department of State to encourage an exchange of cultures. They believe that offering a stipend to host families would compromise the cultural exchange, so host families are not allowed to be reimbursed. Students will bring funds to cover their own entertainment and non-essential purchases, and they come with their own medical insurance that will cover any emergencies or illnesses. Host families are expected to provide 3 meals a day (except on school days, when students may opt to purchase lunch at school) and cover basic living expenses.
The F-1 program is intended for students who want to attend private school. Currently, we are recruiting host families in the Austin, Houston, and Dallas areas for this program. Because the students attend school on an F-1 visa, we are able to offer a stipend of $750 each month to host families. Host families are expected to cover meals and basic living expenses. In addition, they are responsible for transporting the student to and from school.
We already have a family vacation planned. Could we take an exchange student?
As long as the vacation is within the United States, you can definitely take your student with you! Just send our office the information so we know where you are. If the trip involves extra fees that you expect the student to cover, make sure the student has received permission from his or her parents. If you have an international vacation planned, there are extra steps to take. You’ll need to make sure the student has permission from their parents. Then, you’ll want to research what it takes for your student to get a travel visa. Keep in mind that if they meet all the requirements to leave the country with you, you’ll need to send us their visa paperwork to sign and approve travel.
We’re a very busy family. Will we have time to host an exchange student?
Americans are generally busy people! Between work, school, and recreational activities, it may seem like your family has no extra time to spare. However, keep in mind that your exchange student will probably be just as busy as you. We don’t expect families to drop everything to accommodate a student – just include them in your daily life! As long as at least one parent is home on evenings and weekends, hosting should not be a huge burden. Families should be aware that the week leading up to the beginning of school is bound to be exciting and stressful at times, but with the right preparation it will not be a problem. Plus, you’ll have a Local Coordinator and the Student Ambassador Exchange team behind you the whole time!
How much support will we receive once the student arrives?
Once you have applied to be a host family, you will be assigned a Local Coordinator who will help guide you through the entire process. They will conduct a home visit and facilitate a host family orientation to prepare you for the arrival of your student. They will even be at the airport with you to greet your student for the first time! Your Local Coordinator will check in with you and the student at least once a month to see how things are going and troubleshoot any potential problems. In addition, a Student Ambassador Exchange staff member will be available 24/7 to help out with any emergencies or answer any questions the Local Coordinator is unable to resolve. At least once per semester, the Local Coordinator will come visit you in person to make sure everything is going well. All staff members have been fully trained both by our organization and the Department of State, and are ready to help guide you through this exciting experience!
What if we have a family emergency and are no longer able to host?
While we would like to avoid moving a student as much as we possibly can, we understand that emergencies do occur that call for a change in plans. Rest assured that if you have a sudden emergency, such as a death in the family, Student Ambassador Exchange will be there to help you and, if necessary, will move your student to a backup family for the rest of the year or until you are able to host again.
Students won’t be arriving until next August. When should we submit a host family application?
You can submit a host family application anytime! We will be accepting student applications on a rolling basis and are hoping to begin matching students with families this winter. The sooner you send in an application, the more time we have to place you with a student who will be an excellent match for your family!
Of course, these questions do not cover everything that you need to know to be a host family. Please feel free to send us an email or give us a call – we would love to discuss the possibility of being a host family with you!Read More
Student Ambassador Exchange is seeking Local Coordinators to help us prepare for our next group of amazing exchange students! This is a unique position that you may have never considered before. So if you’re wondering whether the job is right for you, here are the best parts of being a Local Coordinator:1Gain experience working with youth, families, and schools: Local Coordinators act as our liaison between the student, the host family, and the school. This is a perfect position for anyone involved in education or social work. You’ll form relationships with the family and the student, as well as school officials. These relationships will help ensure a positive experience for current and future exchange students in your area! 2Get to know another culture: Think of the Local Coordinator position as the international vacation you get to take without leaving home! As you help an exchange student adjust to life in the United States, you will inevitably be learning about their home country’s culture, traditions, and way of life. This experience will enrich you and give you a deeper understanding of global affairs. 3 Put your study abroad experience to use: Were you ever an exchange student? If so, you understand the triumphs and challenges that come with adapting to a foreign environment. Your firsthand experience will be crucial in guiding an exchange student through the same thing. 4 Get involved in international relations: Diplomacy is no longer just about ambassadors meeting behind closed doors. Public diplomacy is all about getting people from different countries to interact with each other. By getting to know a foreign student, you are influencing the way they view the United States. This is an incredible opportunity to act as a citizen diplomat and represent your country! 5 Show off your town: In addition to representing the U.S., you also have the chance to act as an unofficial ambassador to your town! If you’re proud of where you live, you get to introduce an exchange student to all the places that you think make your town great. 6 Get paid: Yes, in addition to all these awesome experiences, we offer our Local Coordinators a stipend based on how many students they place. Local Coordinators can monitor up to 10 students.
Wondering what you’ll do with your exchange student while they are here? Not to worry – we’ve got you covered!
Here are five great activities that your exchange student will be excited to visit with you and your family:
1. The beach or local lake, river, or waterpark
Take your exchange student to the local water spot in your town! Whether it’s the beach, the lake, or the river, this type of event is a great idea to have a little fun, relax, and maybe pack a family picnic!
2. The Capitol
You know how you’ve never quite gotten around to going and visiting your state’s Capitol Building? Now is the time! You’ll be surprised by how interesting a state’s local history can be, and this is a great opportunity for your exchange student to learn more about the United States and its history!
3. The movies
There is nothing quite like the movies. If you know of a special theater that includes all the extras (dinner and a movie, anyone?), consider taking your exchange student to that theater. It’s an exciting opportunity to do an activity that’s is certainly loved across the nation.
4. Local Sports Events
Local basketball team playing soon? Favorite hockey team you’d like to see? American sports are big overseas, so take at least one opportunity to show your exchange student what an all-American baseball/football/basketball/soccer game looks like! Maybe they’ll leave in love with your favorite sports team, too!
5. Road Trip
Pile the family in the car, and hit the road! Get out to see that landmark that’s a few hours away, and take your exchange student along for the ride. Make it educational by looking for landmarks along the way, and have everyone play along with “Spot the Landmark!”Read More
Children of All Nation’s newest program offers opportunities for high school students from China to visit the United States, study for a year in a local high school, and live with a host family to learn more about American culture. Are you interested in sharing about your traditions while learning more about Chinese customs? Then our J-1 Visa High School Program is for you!
Learn just a little bit about the students in our program by getting in touch with a Program Coordinator
Host families are expected to provide meals, a room, and a supportive environment for these students to live, grow, and study in. Students will come with their own spending money and an open heart for your family! In return, you’ll get all the benefits of travel and learning about another culture without ever having to leave your home. While families cannot receive compensation for hosting a student, there is an approved IRS deduction of $50 per month families can quote on their taxes. This is a volunteer opportunity to reach out into the world and make it just a little smaller, connecting one family to another across an ocean.
Our three students from China have written amazing welcome letters to their potential host families, and we would be excited to tell you more about each one of them. If you think you’re ready to open your heart and home to one of these students, click here to contact an SAE Program Coordinator Today!
From Our Students and Their Families
If you’d like to find out more about the students in our program, contact a Program Coordinator to receive a Student Profile! They might be the perfect fit for your family’s new adventure in cultural exchange!
BECOME A LOCAL COORDINATOR!
Not ready to be a host family yourself, but know lots of people in your community excited about cultural exchange? Consider becoming a Local Coordinator with SAE, and get paid to help students achieve their dream of coming to the United States for a year of study!
Local Coordinators are contracted to work with Student Ambassador Exchange. LCs have an exciting, flexible role in the J-1 Visa Secondary Student Program because they get to manage their own schedule and set their own methods of recruitment for host families and schools. LCs must be able to provide for their own travel expenses and supply materials needed for the position.
Find out more about becoming a Local Coordinator at this link, and fill out your application today!Read More
Children of All Nations is excited to announce the opening of the Student Ambassador Exchange department. This department will provide opportunities for students from China and around the world to come to the United States, learn about American culture, and share a little bit of their culture with their host families.
Through its work in adoption, orphan hosting, and student exchange, the larger organization that is Children of All Nations seeks to connect the world through cultural exchange. It is our belief at Children of All Nations, and at SAE, that a broader understanding of cultures different from our own can make a better world for tomorrow.
Our first three students from China have applied to the program, and we are hoping that YOU are ready to open your home to this amazing cultural experience and allow a student to study and learn with you! Hosting is a volunteer opportunity. SAE cannot compensate families for their amazing service, but, the Internal Revenue Service has authorized families to claim a $50 per month charitable contribution deduction on their itemized tax returns. Students will attend the family’s local high school, eat meals with the family, and enjoy the experience of improving their English while learning American customs from you! This opportunity is for those who love to travel, learn, and share their culture.Read More
We are currently recruiting host families for our Homestay Program in Austin, Texas. We have partnered with St. Michael’s Catholic Academy and will be assisting them in finding host families for their international students. It presents you with the opportunity to learn more about a culture different from your own and allows you to help a student grow and learn as they live with you during the school year. You’ll have the support of a SAE/CAN Program Coordinator and receive a small monthly stipend to offset the costs of housing the student.
Families should have a bedroom available for exchange students, which may be shared with a child of the same gender and approximate age. Families should also be willing to assist the student in getting to and from school, or to St. Michael’s convenient drop-off transportation locations in Austin.
To complete an application, host families will need:
- An SAE Host Family Application
- A federal and state background check
- A home safety visit
- Two letters of reference
- A phone interview with a local Program Coordinator
- Provide three daily meals to the exchange student
- A separate, which may be in a shared bedroom with a host sibling of similar age and same gender
- Use of a laundry machine and facilities
- A bathroom, which may be shared
- Transportation to and from St. Michael’s or to the local St. Michael’s transportation location for school
- Access to telephone and internet (wifi) to contact the local Program Coordinator and/or the student’s family at least once a week
For more on host family requirements, you can contact the SAE Lead Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the inquiry form on the right side of the page. You can also call (512) 323-9595 at ext. 3062 about filling out an application today!Read More