Gold Coast Explorer since Jan 2010. Always on the lookout for fun, family things to enjoy with my four kids.
Published May 7th 2015
Expand your cultural horizons
Open your home to an overseas exchange student and they won't be the only one benefitting, as you exchange your cultures, languages and show them your backyard, as you learn about theirs. We have hosted two students from overseas, one from Japan and another from Germany and we all had fun on these culture exchange programs. Both experiences were different, as the personalities were quite different, so each time you host a student will be unique to them and the story they bring with them.
Friendship bracelets and origami
So what's in it for you? Fun and a personal connection, is top of the list as you have the opportunity to learn as much as your visiting student. If you or your kids are learning a language, here is your chance to practice with a native speaker.
If you live on your own, what a great way to have someone stay with you short term and you have the pleasure of showing him or her around. Companies like Australia Japan Study Programme (AJSP) pay a small remuneration to cover costs of meals etc. so you won't be out of pocket. However, as with everything in life, the amount you put in reflects what you get out, so the more involved you are with your student, the stronger a connection you will make and it is highly likely you will have made a new lifetime friend by the end of their stay.
The idea is for you to share your everyday life with your student visitor as they become a member of your family and shadow you as you go about your daily life. For us, that included netball and swimming training, horse riding and trips to the beach with the surfboard. No more pressure is put on you to provide additional events, however you feel that you want to offer your visitor the best experience. If one of your children were with a family overseas, you would hope they would do the same.
Our best homestay memories include the piano playing mastery and impeccable manners of our Japanese student and the infectious enthusiastic zest for life of our German student. They were very different personalities, from very different cultures so each of the students we hosted, made for a unique experience, which I would thoroughly recommend. Host parents (and anyone else aged over 18, living in your household) will need to apply for and hold a Blue Card. This results in a bit of paperwork to complete but is understandably required, so your student's parents feel comfortable with their teenage children being placed with, what are in reality, complete strangers.
Our Japanese girl was with us for one week and our German girl came for two. Depending on the school term, students may be at a local school for the duration of their visit or part of the time may be during term and the rest in the holidays. If the exchange is organized through your child's school, you host and then your child is hosted in return, which is a good way of sharing families and cementing the friendship, as your kids spend time together in your country and that of your visitor. The young people we have hosted have been around 15 years old which is a good age for being independent enough to take on the challenge, of going to live with a family in another country far from your home. Other companies ask for host families to have students, despite not having any children at the school the students will attend, so the community gets involved too.
If you live on the Gold Coast and are interested in having a Japanese student to join your family for a short stay, one of the agencies you can contact is: Miki Kilvington of the Australia Japan Study Programme (AJSP) (E: firstname.lastname@example.org). If you Google "become a host family to overseas students" a whole host of options pop up, so if you have an interest, research your options and give it a go.
Be part of the global community and find out more about becoming a host family.