Frequently Asked Questions By Host Families
What does it mean to be a Host Family?
The most important quality for a Host Family is the ability to make an outsider feel like a member of your own family. Host Families are committed to a mutual exchange of cultural experiences. Our priority is that your family would serve as ambassadors for Christ by giving that young person an opportunity to experience Christ’s love in your family; to understand our customs and values. CABC seeks homes that generate warmth and friendliness while possessing a reasonable degree of stability.
What information is given before the hosting experience?
We will have a meeting months before students arrive where we invite previous host families to share their personal testimonies and new prospective host families to ask any questions. At the meeting, host families watch a video interview of each student and receive a profile of the student they will host before arrival. Emergency contact information is provided as well as guidelines for hosting.
What will our family benefit by hosting an international student?
Hosting an international student is a rewarding experience for your whole family. You’ll learn about another culture and language — without leaving home. You’ll start a life-long relationship with your new "son" or "daughter," and when your student returns home you’ll have a friend in another country. Members of your family will feel closer to each other through sharing your daily lives with an international student. If you have children, they’ll gain a broader perspective on the world, learning more about geography, communication and international cultures. You will be an ambassador of Christ by sharing His love and creating positive impressions, breaking stereotypes, and fostering mutual understanding and respect.
How long do we have to host our international student?
Currently, you can host a student for at least one month but we are looking for families who can host for or for a semester if you choose. Some students plan to come for at least one month during the summer while others plan to come for a semester to also experience American culture within the American education system. Let us know which arrangement would work best for you.
What is required of a host family?
The health and safety of each student is our highest priority and so we ask our host families to abide by regulations that comply with the standards set forth by Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, Colegio Alfa & Omega, the U.S. Department of State and the Council of Standards for International and Educational Travel (CSIET) in providing:
For an additional member of the family including a separate bed (which can be in a shared room with a host sibling of similar age and same gender) and three meals per day.
A supportive environment as the student goes through his or her adjustment process.
Be interested in teenagers/international students and have realistic expectations of what life with a teenager is like. Help your student adapt to your family and to U.S. life and culture.
Familiarize your student with your hometown and promote participation in school and community events.
Provide a safe and secure environment for the student to live and learn.
Open communication, encouragement, patience and sound advice.
Local transportation (students are not permitted to drive during their visit). Since exchange students are not allowed to drive, the host family is expected to provide transportation. The host family will transport students to church events, social activities, and cultural programs, just as they would their own child.
Treatment as a member of the family, which may include household rules, responsibilities and privileges.
Will my international student be covered under my health insurance?
No. Students have their own accident and health insurance coverage during their stay. They will not have to join your health plan.
How expensive is it to host an international student?
Host families are required to cover costs associated with at-home meals, transportation to reasonable social and church activities, and shelter. International students bring their own spending money and are expected to pay for events such as youth camp and personal items such as clothing and souvenirs. You will need to pay the extra, minimal costs, associated with housing another person, such as utility bills, increase in groceries, etc.
How are students selected?
Colegio Alfa & Omega, the school we work with has a rigorous student selection process to ensure that students are well suited for an exchange experience. They must pass a screening process for motivation, character, grades and proficiency in written and spoken English language skills. Students must be between the ages of 14 to 18 to participate in the program. Students are then interviewed on video and their videos are shared with CABC so that we can share with possible host homes as they pray and consider hosting a student. Once students arrive, they are held to high behavioral standards which they are expected to maintain throughout their time here.
Is the international student expected to participate in all of our church and family activities?
Yes, part of the international student coming to the United States is for the student to participate in family life. They should participate in all ways that you would expect your own student to participate in.
What if our family is planning a vacation?
Plan far enough ahead so that your student can participate if at all possible. It takes a little more coordination but can allow the student's parent to purchase the student's plane tickets or hotel accommodations.
What if it does not work out?
If problems arise between the host family and student, the Minister of Missions is there to provide support with professional guidance. If it turns out that differences cannot be resolved, the Minister of Missions and Principal of Alfa & Omega will coordinate to help the student transition to a new home. We are committed to ensuring that both students and host families have a positive exchange experience.
Contact our Minister of Missions, David Villarreal, if you are interested in hosting an international student.