My family and I have been hosting exchange students in Mississippi since 2016. We have now hosted 6 boys and have been able to experience Japan, Spain, Italy, Thailand, and France right in our home.
ANOTHER PERSON AT YOUR DINNER TABLE
When we were first approached about hosting my first response was “ I already have 3 children and no extra bedrooms”. At the time I did not realize that exchange students could share a room with a host sibling and that the majority of exchange students who already had siblings were already sharing a room in their home countries.
So, next I tried the “ I really cannot afford another child right now”. However, if you can afford to add another person to your dinner table then you can afford to host an exchange student. Students come with their own money for expenses like football tickets, entertainment cost, school fees, school lunches, toiletries, vacations, etc.
As a host family we provided love, support, a home and meals. Each of these students, no matter if they were only here for one semester or the full school year, became a member of our family. We still keep in touch with each of our students and have even had some come back to visit years later.
I felt like it was a wonderful life lesson that I was able to give my own children by not only sharing our culture with someone, but also learning about their culture and understanding that the world is bigger than our “ bubble” in South Mississippi. To be honest, one of our concerns when we first started hosting was that the students would be disappointed in Mississippi and would be unhappy or bored.
This was absolutely not the case. Japanese students are in absolute awe of the sky at night. They told us they cannot see the stars because of all the city lights in Japan. The Spanish students enjoy the quiet of the night and how much grass and trees we have. Thai students love how slow the traffic is and how easy it is to get to things. Each student we have hosted has loved the South for different reasons, but the one thing they have all said is that everyone here is so friendly and always hugging them.
REWARDING EXPERIENCE & MEMORIES
Hosting exchange students has been a rewarding experience for our family and for many members of our community. I tell everyone that they should host a student at least once and if they are hesitant about it then I tell them to host a student who only wants to come to the United States for one semester of high school.
WANT TO HOST AN EXCHANGE STUDENT?
If you are interested in hosting an exchange student through Cultural Homestay International please contact the Academic Coordinator for the Mississippi Gulf Coast: