Updated November 2016
There is no set structure for the host family when entertaining guests from other countries. Personalities and cultures vary widely, so a formal set of suggestions would be impossible to produce. The following guidelines are intended to make the initial greeting and hosting experience comfortable for both host and guest.
Before your Guests Arrive
- Try to familiarize yourself with the name(s) of your guest(s) so that you can pronounce it easily.
- Make an effort to learn a greeting and other common phrases in the native tongue of your guest(s).
- Obtain basic information from your Chapter Homestay Coordinators, such as the name, country, and occupation or field of study of the guest(s).
- If possible, send an e-mail or two to your guest(s) to introduce yourself and your family.
- Be open to answering questions about your own government, customs, and cultures.
- Remember that interaction and communication with visitors should be based on respect and tolerance.
- Be prepared to welcome differences and appreciate diversity of customs and traditions..
The Role of the Host Family
- Basic responsibilities of the host families include providing lodging in the home and transportation to and from the point of arrival and departure of the guest(s).
- Each guest should have his or her own bed to sleep in.
- Agree on clear household rules with the visitor to avoid any misunderstandings. For example
1. Discuss household routines such as meals and bedtimes
2. Find arrangements or give information regarding local transportation
3. Discuss any wishes you may have regarding the visitor’s participation in household tasks such as cleaning his/her room, helping to prepare meals, etc.
4. Agree on the use of telephone and computer
- If you are hosting a minor, you are expected to exercise parental supervision during the visitor’s stay.
- Host families are not obligated to pay for the visitors’ meals in restaurants. However, visitors should be included when meals are cooked at home.
- Participants are required to bring their own spending money. Therefore, we suggest that anytime the family leaves the home for dinner or entertainment, the guest be advised of charges to be paid. Thus, if the guest cannot afford it, or does not wish to participate, the guest may decline without expense to either party.
- No entertainment is required but is certainly appreciated. The visitor is to join the family in its everyday activities.
- Families are welcome to entertain and plan activities as they wish.
Families should provide companionship and be interested in getting to know the interests, ideas and culture of the ∙ visitor(s).
If the visitor has any restrictions regarding the use of tobacco, alcohol or certain foods, it will be noted on the Participant Biography Form. If the family has restrictions, it should be noted in the Host Family Application.
Families should know that their guests might sometimes experience a “culture shock,” especially if it is their first visit to a foreign country or if they are unable to speak the host language. Symptoms include fatigue, homesickness, feelings of frustration, and a lack of appetite. Families should be sensitive to this and be willing to help their guests cope with their new surroundings, perhaps with the help of the chapter’s Homestay Coordinator.
- Families are encouraged to consult the chapter Homestay Coordinator about cultural, personal or disciplinary problems.