Union International Outreach Program
Hosting an International High School Student FAQ’s
Q: What kinds of families can host a student?
A: 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. It is recommended, host parents must be at least 25 years of age and be able to take on the financial responsibility of hosting a student.
Q: What is the monthly stipend?
A: The monthly stipend is dispersed at the beginning of each month. In most cases, the stipend covers all costs related to feeding and housing a growing teenager, but we consider the stipend a gesture to offset the cost of hosting.
Q: How old are the students?
A: Most students are between 14 and 18 years old and will attend Union High School.
Q: How does the agency screen the students?
A: The International Agency that works with the Union School District 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.
Q: What is expected of the exchange student?
A: 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 to participate as a family member and are expected to follow host family rules, which can include performing family chores. International students are considered ambassadors for their countries; their attitudes and behaviors must reflect the highest standards set by our program.
Q: What is the length of stay?
A: Most of the students arrive in August for a 10-month academic stay, returning to their home country in June. About 25 percent of the 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.
Q: What are the rewards of hosting?
A: 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 an international 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.
Q: What happens if the student is ill or in an accident?
A: International students are covered by a PPO plan for international students. Medical ID cards are sent to all students and host families. The agency will provide information for locating providers within the extensive PPO network. Coverage extends beyond the PPO network as well, and the agency International Staff can assist students with claims required when treatment is not within the PPO network. This affords students, their natural parents, and their host families a peace of mind.
Q: What about money?
A: 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.
Q: Are we expected to show them America?
A: You are not obligated, but if your family is taking a vacation, you may include your international student. The agency can connect students with third-party organizations that facilitate travel opportunities for international students. Keep in mind that the Union International Outreach 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 international student.
Common Concerns from Potential Host Families
• Ten months is too long…
We also have students for one semester (five months). Perhaps the family would feel more comfortable hosting for a semester rather than a full ten months.
• I/ We are single/retired…..
Many successful placements have occurred in single-parent or retired homes. It is just a matter of selecting a student who would fit well in this environment.
• What if I don’t live in the Union School District…..
The only concern is transportation to and/from school. As long as the host family lives within the Union School District area, school transportation would transport the student to and from school. If the host family lives outside the Union School District, the host family would have to ensure the international student arrives to and from school on their own.
• I/ We are going on vacation…
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.
• I/ We don’t have an extra room…
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.
• I/ We work all day…
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 international students come from families where both parents work, and hence they are comfortable with this type of environment.
• A friend had a bad experience hosting…
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 Agency. We are happy to connect prospective host families with other families in our network that have previously hosted.