There are rules that you want to define up front so that the student will know what is expected of him/her, and this will help things go more smoothly at home.
My wife and I have hosted children eight times from either Korea or Belarus, and we even hosted an adult from France. We found that if we define the rules up front, the students will know what is expected and can plan accordingly. In general, a good rule of thumb is this: the fewer the surprises, the better.
These are some of the guidelines we’ve used. Some were put in place by the organizations through which the foreign students are matched with us, and some were put in place by us.
1. Share a bedroom: If at all possible, pair up the student with one of your own children so that they both share a bedroom. This almost seems contrary to what one might initially expect, but think about it this way. The more interaction that the student has with your child, the more welcome and comfortable the student will feel. More interaction also means more exposure to the language, which is almost always one of the goals for the student. There is a strong correlation between the student being alone and the student feeling homesick. If the student is sharing a bedroom, then he / she is less likely to spend time “hiding” in a corner and therefore is also less likely to feel homesick.
2. One meal fits all: The student should eat what the rest of the family eats. You do not want to get in the mode of having to cook and serve one meal for your family and then cook something else for the student. Besides creating a lot of additional work for you, it also creates an implicit wall that says, “I’m going to treat you differently than how I treat my own children.” We try to provide a variety of food at the meal so that the student is likely to find something to eat. Last night, for example, we had tamales, spanish rice, and a cranberry orange salad. Our Korean student had a really tough time with the cranberries, but he loved the tamales and the rice.
That being said, we also try to cook dishes from the student’s home country, and this helps the student feel welcome, but it also gives our children the opportunity to try new things. When the foreign student sees my kids eating new and exotic dishes, the student is encouraged to try new things too.
Published in: Entertaining