Guest post by Host Mom, Autumn Roadruck
My husband and I always wanted to be exchange students but the opportunity never really presented itself. One day while at our local YMCA we were presented the opportunity to host an exchange student. After about 45 minutes of chatting, we took the plunge & before too long we were looking at potential students to come live with us.
For us, we were basically "renting" a teenager as our biological children are 8 and 3. This gave us a great opportunity to have a year of high school experiences while learning about a new culture while sharing our own. There were several different types of challenges we faced throughout the year from language blunders to understanding expectations, to planning family activities across multiple states.
The biggest thing we found that was key to success was open and honest communication. When our student arrived - and after he'd had a day to rest and recover from the travel, we discussed with him his expectations and our expectations, ground rules, chores, and such. By starting out on the same page, we had clear boundaries in case there were any challenges later in the year. Thankfully, our biggest issues were around reminders about chores, and actually having to tell our student to get out of the house more and socialize!
Another critical key to success was having overlapping interests. Our exchange student does martial arts in his home country and was starting a Youtube channel. We happen to own a martial arts school and coach parents through our Youtube channels so it was a great fit. The shared interests were a great way to get to know each other and share passions in new ways, which built some great rapport between us as a family.
YFU USA was also very proactive about touching base with us throughout the year to make sure our student and our natural family were all comfortable with what was going on and well prepared for the changing of the seasons as the holidays arrived and the school year ended.
All in all, it's been a great experience and after we move into our new home, we will be planning on hosting again!
Are you interested in hosting a YFU international student? If so, please visit our Meet the Students page!
Check out Autumn's video, welcoming Henri at the start of his exchange year!