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  1. #1
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    Feb. 28, 2006
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    Default Hosting an exchange student, anybody done it?

    We've signed up to host a Japanese exchange student - DD will be there for her second trip this summer. This will be our very first time to host.

    I'd love to hear of others' experiences, good, bad or indifferent, with hosting or going as an exchange student. Touristing, school activities, what did you do?
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  2. #2

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    I've had 2 - both boys from Germany.

    Overall, very positive experiences.

    First one, didn't have a lot in common with him, he was a bit of a hippy, but still a good kid. He went to my son's school (a Sudbury School, so a really good fit for him). We did a lot of local touristy things, and I allowed him to spend a lot of time with kids his own age, because he, and they, were all trustworthy and responsible. I think he appreciated being given that independence to do things with his peers instead of being stuck with us all the time.

    He must have been happy with us, because he came back for a visit 2 years later, just to see us.

    Second one was a little more difficult. His father was military, so he was a little more rigid. Still a good, honest kid. Hardest part with him was him learning that as part of the family he was expected to help with chores. And oh my God the first week - he went through like 5 gallons of milk. Apparently milk is subsidized very heavily in Germany, so it's super cheap. It was a pretty funny conversation when I had to explain to him that we just couldn't drink that much milk. He was late getting accepted into the program, so he didn't even have a school to go to when he got here. Took about two weeks to get that sorted out. Then 9/11 happened. His mom was a flight attendant with Lufthansa. The poor woman was freaking out - all she knew was a plane had gone down in PA - no idea how close to us, and of course phone lines were impossible. He was more of a joiner than the first kid - he joined the school soccer team and also was permitted to do ROTCA. I broke the rules a little with this one. His parents came over for a visit, which is a no-no, but it was close to the end of the year and I had developed a lovely relationship with them through letters and phone calls. That visit wasn't going to set off a bout of homesickness or interfere with his stay. That turned out not so great for me - the day they arrived, we were all supposed to go out for dinner, but I slipped a disc and was on my way to the ER just as they got to the house.

    I think both boys were kind of shocked at how much we made them a part of the family - even extended family.

    The biggest downside quite frankly was the program that set them up. Communication and support was awful, they didn't do the things they were supposed to - picnics/parties with all the kids and families, trips, etc. They just sort of dumped the kids on the door step and disappeared. If I had the room, I'd do it again, but would like a girl next time.

    Biggest piece of advice - treat them as part of the family, not as a guest. Don't stress on doing too much tourism, just some high points. Encourage involvement in some hobby or sport at school. Pay attention. One family had a girl who decided to go vegan, but didn't know how to do it properly. She looked like a Holocaust survivor, but it happened so gradually, the family didn't really notice. And at some schools, exchange students aren't treated very kindly by other students because they are different.
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  3. #3
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    Nov. 1, 2001
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    Default

    For the past few summers we have hosted student teachers in a program called Breakthrough. We have had college aged guys from the East coast and one from South Central LA. We did a few touristy things with them and took them along on our vacations after the program finished at the end of summer. All nice kids and a great experience for mine to see how other people from different parts of the country and different cultures think.
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  4. #4
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    Sep. 24, 2004
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    Piedmont Triad, North Carolina
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    20 years ago, we hosted two girls from Japan for a couple of weeks. We had two daughters 10 & 12 at the time. It was a good learning experience for everybody. The x students got to ride our horses and share meals with us.



  5. #5
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    Jul. 19, 2003
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    Middleburg, VA
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    Default

    When I was in junior high and high school, we did kind of a "exchange student lite." Every spring, a big group of Japanese students came from a school and would stay with different families in the area for 2 or 3 weeks. They did a lot of things as a group (various field trips and such), but also spent time with their families, doing "American" things. It was always great fun, especially since we had several families we were close to host, as well. We had huge, fun family dinners and parties, and ALL the kids (American and Japanese) had a blast. I still have very vivid memories of taking several of them out to meet my horse. Most had only ever seen pictures of horses, and they ALL got a little ride, got to brush him, and feed him lots of treats. Actually ran across those pictures recently...good times. There was very little bad about it. It was a well run program and the kids were awesome.

    We attempted a similar program one summer with a group of French students. THAT was a disaster, but more because the state side organizer was totally disorganized and incompetent. Kids didn't have homes for the entire length of time their were here (about a month), so got moved around a lot. Some of the kids were fabulous, but the screening process was not as good as the Japanese program (for the Japanese kids, they had to have a very certain amount of English and had to have very good grades to make the trip. Not so for the French kids). The girl we ended up with spoke hardly ANY English and we finally moved her in with the family hosting her BFF because she was so miserable (as in, sad and lonely, but also just not a fun person to be around!). It still ended up being fun, though. My family ended up taking on the chaperons (because, like a lot of the kids, there host family couldn't keep them the whole time) who were an absolutely fantastic couple. we had so much fun with them! And my best friends' family took in a girl who we all adored and ended up having a great time with her. Many tears were shed when they all left....but the couple and that girl (and a few others) were the silver lining...,that was a disaster!



  6. #6
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    Nov. 2, 2001
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    My aunt had a boy form Williamsburg for a few weeks. They had been over with the school band (twin cities deal) as return visit for their school choir going to Virginia.

    They did a lot with their group, so there was not really a lot of time we had to spend with them, but it was a fun thing, since all the cousins were about that age. (I had this kid wanting to trade me his trumpet for my car! )


    My dad took in two girls from french hortucultural school exchange...it was a bit rough, since they did not really speak any German. One was pretty nice, the other one had a bit of an attitude. But we managed.


    if you do this, screen the organization, I have heard some real horror stories.

    but if it's done right it can be enlightening for both parties.


    Of course, you will end up doing the touristy spots you never dreamed of going to....You know, the museum you haven't been in since Elementary school, the park you just found out existed around the corner....
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  7. #7
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    Jan. 17, 2008
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    Dutchess County, New York
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    We've hosted a few international students over school breaks for the boarding school my husband works for. We've hosted Japanese and Chinese students as well as two boys from the Palestinian Territories that we grew close to. We didn't have any of them for more than two weeks, so it is a bit different. We had great experiences with all except the Chinese students, who literally would not leave their room. We would ask them to be involved with various things but they always said no. Finally, with Thanksgiving dinner (with 20 people, lots of kids) I ordered them to come down and eat with us!

    But that was the only not so great experience. The others we definitely got more than we gave. I'm still in touch with one of the Palestinian boys.



  8. #8
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    Jul. 4, 2008
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    The Great Northwest!
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    I've always wanted to do this! We hosted a student from Germany and one from Sweden when I was a kid.

    How do you set one up? I was thinking I'd call the local school district and see if they have an organization they go through. Is it hard to get the school to accept the the student can give them credit?
    What are so good angencies to go through? I'd love to hear more from people that have hosted.
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  9. #9
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    Feb. 7, 2005
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    Lancaster, PA
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    We did an exchange (not international) with our band when I was in 8th grade. We went to their area for about a week and played concerts and went to touristy places. Then they came to ours and did the same thing. I and my friend (we went in pairs) got a nice family when we were on our trip. They even had a horse and we went riding. That trip was fun and we got to go a lot of cool places. Some other kids ended up in a house that was filthy with bugs, etc. and had to go stay in the hotel with the chaperones instead.

    When their band came to our area, the two girls we got were horrible. We took them out for pizza and they stole things from the restaurant. Pointless things like the salt shaker and the little plastic stand with ads that was on the table. We had a social at the school and they met some boys who were always bad/in trouble, then convinced my mom to take us all to the mall where they met up with the boys and ran off for hours. Finally, my dad caught them smoking in our house (they thought if they opened the window no one would notice.) Thankfully that was the last night... Later when we developed film we found they had taken my younger brother's camera and taken all these 'sexy' (thankfully not nude) photos as well.



  10. #10
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    Aug. 10, 2010
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    Western NY
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    Default

    We worked with an organization called Nacel that brings kids from France and Spain for one month in the summer. A good set up because a month goes quickly. All good experiences (3 boys visited us, plus my daughter went over to visit a French family.) The French boy did not like America, or our food...but I figured out that his family was just sending him "wherever" for the entire summer and spending no time with him themselves. Sad situation....My daughter is still in touch with the French family, and we visited them. Going back 25 years....


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  11. #11
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    Feb. 28, 2006
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    Thanks all. My boss used to host students and told me the story about the Brazil Nuts - two boys that basically had lots of money and came through the program to whoop it up. They bought a car and ran off to SF, nobody know where they were.

    My DD had to qualify to go this year, her grades in Japanese have to so high and she is expected to be a TA next year. We have a whole page on our student but it's hard to decipher her qualifications. She does love basketball so she's come to the right place! (Kentucky. you all may think it's the horse capital but really it's the NCAA Basketball capital)
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  12. #12
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    Apr. 4, 2010
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    yonder a bit, GA
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    My experience was most like yellowbritches- exchange student lite, for two weeks. They were from germany and we decided to do it last minute when another host family backed out. We got a wonderful, delightful girl my age named Janina. They spent two weeks, mostly doing group things amongst themselves, but they had to sit in on a certain amount of classes with their host kids as well. Then we did socials and group stuff with them, too. I had been abroad before, but it was such a fun, interesting experience having a person my age reacting to *my* environment for the very first time. Quite eye-opening. All of them had a great time teaching us swear words in German and complaining about the zillions of commercials aired during the Simpsons in the States (and the fact that the host parents wouldn't let them drink a beer while they watched it, which we thought was just soooo mature and cool. lol!). Most of the kids were great, there were some really really shy kids there, but Janina spoke a great deal of English and I admit that was probably the most helpful/big factor of it being a great time.
    The following summer, the host kids that were able went over to Germany and spent two weeks with their exchange families. That was awesome! We did more of the touristy thing than her group did (as theirs was an actual school thing, and ours was for entertainment). Janina's dad was a police officer and he put us in the back of his squad car (a passat wagon, i had a passat sedan which Jana had called 'sooopar!'), turned the siren on and flew down the autobahn with us. The kids also threw a surprise party for me for my 18th birthday, which was the first and only surprise party i've had- i loved it!
    We exchanged emails for a year or so after that but i've lost touch with her. I tried fb-stalking to see if she was online, but didn't get anything concrete. Still my mom will mention her every once in a while and say she was so happy we decided on a whim to do it
    Last edited by bits619; Apr. 4, 2013 at 09:42 PM. Reason: additional stuff
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2000
    Location
    Minnesota
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    We hosted a girl from Austria for 5 months last year and had a wonderful experience, so wonderful, my daughter is being hosted by her family this school year in Austria. We did all sorts of things with her, took one plane trip, more smaller car trips. She made friends at school and got involved there. We treated her like one of our own children, and she was a delight. We finally met her family at Christmas when we traveled to Austria to see our daughter. I believe the girls will be life long friends.
    We have agreed to host another student this August also from Austria. My daughter met her over there. I have found it to be a great experience for our entire family.
    We have also hosted some Japanese students over breaks and holidays from the dorms at my daughters school. Coincidence or not, I will not do that again. They spent all the time in their room, I believe they were up all night skyping. I believe these girls had been in some sort of boarding school situation since first grade, so they didn't fit into our family life very well.
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  14. #14
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    Mar. 13, 2009
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    When I was younger my family hosted college age exchange students for a local community level college that I guess didn't do the whole dorm thing. There was compensation provided for the use of the room plus food and some other expenses. I guess it is a little different than some experiences that have been described since my parents weren't strictly supposed to be parenting them like you would a 15 year old.

    We had a South Korean girl that I remember as being very sweet. She kept to herself a lot but was easy going and easy to get along with. We also had a Mexican boy that ate A LOT and had some different expectations about food and meals than we were used to (ie. was expecting to have all meals prepared for him when the contract said dinner had to be provided); he was also fairly messy. He was out of the house a lot more and was more of a partier than a studier.

    A friend of mine has a student from the same program living in their house right now (from South America I think) and he is interested in being part of family activities and while there were cultural adjustments about food, noise levels and "quirky" habits, I think they're all enjoying the experience more or less.

    I think it's a bit of luck of the draw about whether you are going to get someone that meshes well with your lifestyle but I think it's a neat opportunity to learn about different cultures and places. I also think there need to be appropriate measures in place to protect both parties from situations they need to get out of!



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