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News - Youth For Understanding USA

Latest news about Youth for Understanding USA student exchange programs worldwide – Events – Partnerships.

Reasons Why Being a Host Sibling is the Best

Jennifer McKendree

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Hosting an exchange student for a year or even a semester is a transformative experience for everyone in your family, but maybe for your kids most of all. When your exchange student leaves for home after being a part of your family, your kids won't be the same. In a good way. Here are some reasons why being a host brother or sister is great for your kids:

  • They'll get up close and personal with diversity. It's one thing for your kids to hear about the importance of embracing diversity on the news or in school, but it's another thing entirely to see it in your own home. Hosting an exchange student from a different country allows kids to experience and embrace another culture. It will make them more tolerant of differences between people, becoming curious instead of wary when those differences arise. If your exchange student practices a religion that's not your own, for example, it can be a learning opportunity for your kids. Suddenly, the world is not made up of "us" and "them." Your kids' horizons will be broadened and they'll gain a new view that they'll keep in mind long after your exchange student returns home.

  • They'll become more empathetic. Going hand in hand with embracing diversity, hosting a student from another culture will inevitably lead to having to compromise, do things another way, or otherwise accommodate your foreign student. It will teach your child that it's not always their way or the highway, and for teenagers, that's huge.

  • Their foreign language skills will be kicked up a notch. If you're hosting a student who speaks a language your child is already studying, it's a golden opportunity to learn from a native. Instead of learning schoolbook French, your child will learn to speak like a real French student, slang and all. If your kids are not already studying a foreign language, hosting an exchange student is a perfect way to expose them to it and start them on the path of learning. It's a win-win for your kids and your exchange student, too, who is likely wanting to improve his or her English skills at the same time.

  • Only children can experience what it's like to have a sibling, even for a short while. Families say this is one of the biggest benefits to their children. Being a one-and-only, your child hasn't grown up sharing, whether it's toys or time with parents. They haven't whispered in the dark with a sibling when they should be sleeping. They haven't had a partner. Hosting an exchange student will give them all of that.

  • Your kids will learn what it feels like to be the big or little brother or sister. Depending on the age of your student in relation to the ages of your children, they'll get to experience being in a new order in your family. 

Hosting an exchange student will help your kids grow, learn and become more well rounded. Visit our Meet the Students page today to find your newest family member.