International Student Exchange, Is it Right for Your Family? | Morris Bernards Moms


Have you been considering hosting an International Exchange Student? We spoke with Kelly Baker, Regional Advisor from International Student Exchange (ISE) on the ins and outs of how the program works, what you need to know and how to get started. Read our interview below and see if hosting a student from abroad is right for your family.


What is an International Student Exchange?
International Student Exchange (ISE) is a certified 501c3 non-profit organization that has provided quality programs for over 30,000 exchange students. ISE is designated by the US Department of State to run our J-1 program for the purpose of cultural enrichment and public diplomacy and is fully-listed with CSIET (the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel.)

Why did your family choose to host exchange students?
My husband and I love learning about different cultures! I also love seeing people’s first experiences such as, first time seeing snow, seeing NYC, seeing the Valentines aisle at the grocery store and seeing deer on our lawn. It is so interesting to see a student’s wonder and excitement at the everyday things we often take for granted. My daughter, who is 10 years old, also loves having an older “sister” to look up to. She is learning about different cultures, languages and different interests she might have done if we did not have an exchange student.

How do you become a host family?
Anyone can become a host family – a single person, a single person with kids, a couple with no kids, a couple with kids or same sex couple. The host family needs to be able to provide an exchange student with three meals a day, have a room that has a door, bed, window and a quiet area to study.

A host family would have to fill out an application which has their personal information, who lives with you, a letter to the student, household rules, character references, and pictures of your house. Once you fill out the application, an area representative will call the references and do a quick inspection of your house. The area representative will also contact the school to make sure your local high school is willing to enroll an exchange student.



How do they match you with a student?
An area representative will ask the host family about the activities the family does as well as if you go to church, have pets and other children. We will also ask the host family for their preference of country, language and gender. After gathering all this information, the area rep will give you 2 or 3 exchange students to choose from.

Can you make special requests like male or female students or which country they are from?
Yes, the host family can request gender, country and even hobbies! Most of our students are from Spain, Italy, Germany, Brazil and South Korea. However, we have students from all over the world like Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, Thailand, Vietnam, and Montenegro.

How long do they stay with you for?
Students can stay for 5 months (August- January, January – June), 10 months (August to June) or a full year (January to January).

What if your student isn’t a good fit for your family?
The area representative will try to help you two to communicate. If this does not work the student will be placed with another family that is a better fit.

What is your best advice for families looking to get started?
My best advice after hosting 3 exchange students the last 2 years is to welcome them into the family as a family member and not a guest. Set ground rules that work with your family and decide with your exchange students a few chores they can do to help out around the house. As with any good relationship, communication is key!



This article was sponsored by International Student Exchange. For more information on how to become a host family, you can reach out to Kelly Baker, or visit their website.

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