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Most of us are aware that the world seems to be getting smaller. It isn’t in size, of course, but incredible strides in communication and transportation have created swiftly-increasing globalization that makes it seem as if the world is shrinking. Businesses have interests almost everywhere in the world, and our government is constantly challenged to maintain and improve its relationships with other nations. Opening your home to an exchange student is a step you can take toward improved international communication and understanding, a step that will greatly benefit future generations.

There are also incredible personal rewards. Familiarization with the language and customs of another culture is a priceless gift that you receive as a host family and at the same time give back to your exchange student. Both your family and your student will try new foods, learn about special holiday traditions, play new games, and learn about music, art, and crafts.

Learning another language as a host family can be a lot of fun. For host parents, it may even open doors to business opportunities. Children in host families—even adult children—develop and expand analytical skills and even improve their English when they learn the similarities between many languages.

Most important is the rewarding sense of fulfillment you will experience as a host family, knowing that you have played a key part in helping a young person achieve his or her dream. It is only normal to feel that you’ve added a new son or daughter to your family, even if only for a short while. And while the visit may end, the relationship will endure across the miles.

If you are considering hosting a foreign exchange student, the time to act is now. As you might imagine, certain types of paperwork must be completed for you to be approved as a host family. Don’t worry—you don’t have to be wealthy or look like the all-American family—but you do need to act now to apply in time for the next school year.

There are over 35,000 foreign exchange students who will need host families for the next fall school session.

*When you provide a home for a foreign student brought to this country under a qualified international education exchange program for a temporary period you may be able to take a charitable contribution tax deduction. More information can be found at the IRS website here. Look for the topic entitled Expenses Paid for Student Living With You.

Canadian Host Families – click this link if you live in Canada – Host Family

International Host Families – click this link if you live elsewhere – Host Family