Hosting an International
Considering hosting an international exchange student ?
Here are the most common Hosting an International Student FAQs and answers
There are many different types of host families that qualify for our program, including: single parent families, families with children of any age, families without children, retired persons, and even single people with a strong desire to host. Host parents must be at least 25 years of age and be able to take on the financial responsibility of hosting a student.
The monthly stipend varies by location and is based on the estimated cost of living and hosting an exchange student. In most cases, the stipend does not cover all costs related to feeding and housing a growing teenager, but we consider the stipend a gesture to offset the cost of hosting. Families interested in earning money from the stipend will not be considered.
Most students are between 14 and 18 years old and attend high school. We also offer a program for middle school students, between the ages of 12 and 14, however these students comprise a small number of our overall student enrollment.
ICES works with foreign partners who perform the pre-screening of student applicants. Students are required to submit complete application materials including current medical records, at least one teacher recommendation, official academic transcripts, English proficiency exam results, an essay, and a questionnaire. Most students are screened through a SKYPE video and audio interview to ensure a level of English proficiency that meets the majority of our high school’s enrollment criteria.
Our students are here on an academic, cultural exchange program. They must attend and participate in school full time and maintain a C average in all course work. Students are able to participate as a family member and are expected to follow host family rules, which can include performing family chores. ICES’s students are considered ambassadors for their countries; their attitudes and behaviors must reflect the highest standards set by our program.
Most of our students arrive in August for a 10-month academic stay, returning to their home country in June. About 25 percent of our students only come for a semester, which consists of a 5-month stay. Some semester-students arrive in August and stay until January and other students arrive in January and stay until June. We also offer a program called the American School Experience (ASE), in which students come during the academic year for 1 to 3 months. These students comprise the smallest percentage of our total enrollment.
The rewards are many and are far too numerous to detail here. In short, family members will learn and grow with the experience of hosting a foreign exchange student. The goal of our program is for host families and students to share their cultures, customs and traditions, while building life-long friendships. Inevitably, families and students will learn the importance of direct communication and how the cultures of communication can vary. Over time, communication barriers will fall, and families and students will create a bond that will hopefully last for long after the end of the program.
ICES students are covered by Seven Corners PPO plan for international students. Students are enrolled by the ICES staff at the National Office. We send medical ID cards to all students and host families, and we provide information for locating providers within the extensive PPO network. Coverage extends beyond the PPO network as well, and the ICES Staff can assist students with claims required when treatment is not within the PPO network. This is a $50 deductible policy and affords students, their natural parents, and their host family peace of mind.
The student’s natural parents agree to send adequate spending money. This money should be enough for personal hygiene items, clothing, social activities, transportation, trips, school expenses, and telephone calls to their home country. Natural parents agree to send between $300 and $500 per month for each program participant.
You are not obligated, but if your family is taking a vacation, you may include your exchange student. ICES can connect students with third-party organizations that facilitate travel opportunities for exchange students. Keep in mind that the ICES program is an academic program, and travel will only be permitted for students who are meeting their academic standards. Participation in these trips is the financial responsibility of the exchange student.
Common Concerns from Potential Host Families
We also have students for one semester (five months), and in some cases, one to three months. Perhaps the family would feel more comfortable hosting as a “welcome family” (a family who commits only to a one month hosting experience until a permanent family can be found)
We have had many successful placements in single-parent or retired homes. It is just a matter of selecting a student who would fit well in this environment.
Our students are encouraged to be as independent as possible; many students are used to living in major cities and are accustomed to using public transportation. Transportation to and from school is not the host family’s responsibility. Your student may need transportation on weekends or for special school activities. If you are not able to provide this transportation, students can ask friends for rides.
Perhaps you would like to invite the student to join you? Many times the natural parents are happy to provide extra money for the student to accompany the host family. Alternatively, with sufficient notification, the student may stay with friends or relatives while you are away.
Most of our students are happy to share a room with a sibling of the same sex and within their age group. We do not encourage students to share a room with a child that is more than 2 years older or younger. Students cannot request their own, private bedroom in our program. However we are not comfortable forcing a student to share a bedroom against his/her will as this can lead to problems.
This is a common situation. Remember the student will be busy with studies and will be involved in extracurricular activities. Provided that you are clear about your house rules, the student does not need to be supervised 24 hours a day. Many exchange students come from families where both parents work, and hence they are comfortable with this type of environment.
Not every exchange experience works out perfectly. We provide materials, orientations, and resources to help ensure a good experience for all. Supervision and communication with your Local Coordinator will help prevent problems from escalating. If any problem becomes unmanageable, it will be dealt with immediately by the Local Coordinator and/or the ICES National Office. We are happy to connect prospective host families with other families in our network that have previously hosted for ICES.
The ICES National Office has a Student Counselor and full time staff on hand with a 24-hour emergency line for additional support to host families and students.