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5 Reasons Why You Should Never Host an Exchange Student at Your House

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Host an Exchange Student at Your House

It’s a bad idea to host international exchange students. It’s not fun at all. There are MANY reasons why you shouldn’t even consider it.

#5. You’ll Have to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Seriously, who wants to have a stranger from across the world in your house? What if they’re weird? What if they think that YOU are weird? Will you be able to understand them? You know that they “speak English” – but they do have funny accents – you know, different than our funny Southern accent.

They eat weird things too – are you going to have to try new foods? And what if they don’t like BBQ? – as if that is even possible! And there is also the ultimate risk – the possibility that they turn into ‘traitors’ – I mean, what if they get here and decide to cheer for Auburn instead of Alabama at our fall football worship services/games, because they like the jersey colors better? They think soccer is called football, for goodness sake!

Student Ambassador Program 1

Can you just imagine the embarrassment? Could your family survive these challenges?

#4. Curious Locals Will Ask Questions

People are going to ask the exchange student questions like:

  • “Did you just say that you are from, ‘Georgia the Country’?” (Thinks this kid is tricking them, and does Google search to read up on the Republic of Georgia.)
  • “Do you have cars in your country, or do you ride camels/elephants to school?”
  • “Why did you learn three different languages?”
  • “Do you think that I would like your country?”
  • “Can you teach me how to dance like that?”

So much interest – so many questions!! You will learn a lot just by being around them – passive learning about geography and other people. And the Student Ambassadors also give cultural presentations to classmates as part of their exchange.

Why? What if our kids even want to learn MORE? OMG!


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#3. You Will Look At Your City with Fresh Eyes

It’s going to be like you are on a staycation for 10 months. You’re going to want to take the occasional weekend to show them the beautiful natural wonders and resources that we have here – visit the shopping mall, go to a festival – blah blah blah. YUCK.

The fall leaf color change is a pretty spectacular event to a kid who has only seen tropical plants and palm trees – those kids are easily entertained! A hike through forests or foothills is amazing to a child from a desert region. You drive by those big rockets every day, but you are going to want to visit the Space Center, again. The kid is going to think that Alabama really is beautiful, and they are going to sing that annoying song – you know the one that I’m talking about – ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. Has everyone in the WORLD heard that song?

UGH.

#2. You Might Inadvertently Change The World

Who wants that responsibility? These Student Ambassadors are here to learn about community service and volunteerism. They are asking our children and their classmates if they want to help. (Seriously? It’s everything I can do to get mine to take out the recycling bin, but now they want to do community service?)

Our children may get more involved in helping other people – they are going to start seeing the people of the world around them differently.

Student Ambassador Program 2

Volunteerism spreads like a head cold! You are going to have to drive them to community service events sometimes. You are going to see the kids around them infected/inspired to get involved, then they remember how good it feels to give, and the cycle just continues!

THE WORST.

#1. Spread Peace and Love

Even more contagious than volunteerism! You grow to like the kid and consider them family, and they you. They make friends here. Everybody learns about each other and realizes that we are much more alike than we are different.

The kid goes back to their country and talks about what they did here, and the kindnesses shown to them by total strangers – The Americans. Knowledge is a powerful peacemaker. Our kids have a great time learning and growing to love this person – we all tell stories of hilarious misadventures caused by differences in languages and customs, and we tell of our “children” across the world and how much we love and miss them, but still keep in touch.

Student Ambassador Program 3


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And the love just continues to grow as generations of families here and afar hear the stories and experience the change. Kids grow and become adults who give more consideration to how things affect other people. The epidemic of love and peace continues – stronger than anything else there is.

(SILLY HIPPIES.)

Don’t Even Think About Signing Up

If none of these reasons scare you, the Student Ambassador program is currently placing students with volunteer host families and Alabama schools for next year. The students come with an allowance for their personal items, health insurance, and their school fees are paid.

There is no ‘ideal’ host family – they come in all kinds; traditional, and non-traditional, younger and older, and even single retirees make great host parents – enjoying having an interesting companion to share their America with!

There are very limited slots available in our schools for these students, so it is important to secure their placement as soon as possible. The current students in the program have had a great year in Huntsville and Madison schools! For more information on the programs and the students, you can call 205-542-6165 or email UNAbhamal@gmail.com for referral to a hosting program that interests you!

You can also find more information on our Facebook Page and by visiting our website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Kinney is an international community coordinator who works with high school exchange students – student ambassadors from other countries who come to the U.S. on scholarships from the U.S. State Department Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) and Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programs. She is also the president a United Nations Association chapter here, and mentors both exchange students and American students in community service and leadership programs. There are also opportunities for our U.S. students to go on exchange to other countries.


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View Comments (4)
  • It is so worth hosting!!!! We have hosted three years and are still in contact with all our kids. Do it!!!

  • The author knows what she’s talking about! :-). Rebecca was our go-to person when we hosted an exchange student from Ukraine. She did so much to help the students and families adjust. She also worked to give the kids as many opportunities as possible: to learn, volunteer, socialize, travel, you name it.
    Opening our home had a huge, positive impact on our lives. All the points Rebecca listed in the article are exactly why the experience was so great.
    We learned so much about the world. Happenings in what had seemed a very remote place suddenly became very relevant to us.
    We also learned a lot about ourselves, and certainly more about our region. We saw more of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee in 2010-2011 than in any year prior or since. Every day brings a “remember when…” moment.
    Our “son” in Ukraine will always be part of our Alabama family. Thanks, Rebecca, for making all this a reality for us.

  • We had a great experience hosting a very deserving scholarship student from Kazakhstan. among all the benefits of hosting, my very favorite is the fact that my preschoolers gained a loving older sister they adore! this is a truly life changing event for some of these kids who have never flown on an airplane or left their hometown before. Please contact Rebecca with any questions, she is an excellent and very knowledgable coordinator who makes wonderful matches for families and students.

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