China

Cong Sheng Temple, Dali, China

Become a host family with AFS, an organization with 70 years of experience in student exchange and international education. Students from China and more than 90 other countries come to the U.S. each year with AFS, to discover American life and share their culture with their new host family and community.

One in five of the world’s population is Chinese, making it a critical culture to learn and teach your family about. Welcoming a student from China can increase understanding between cultures in a unique and deeply life-changing way.

Country Information

A country of striking natural formations and ancient architecture, China is an awe-inspiring, friendly, and delightful country. Discover this land of centuries-old temples and imperial palaces set amidst gleaming skyscrapers; become part of one of the most dynamic societies in the world. China is also the most populated country in the world, with 1.35 billion inhabitants.

Diet

Chinese diet consists more of vegetables, rice and noodles than of meat. Noodles and dumplings are popular in the north, while rice dishes are more common in the south. Chinese cuisine is varied and delicious with a wide spectrum of textures and tastes. Western food is widely available, but is a luxury that is considered expensive.

Depending on where the exchange student is from, he or she might have different favorite foods and tastes (spicy vs. mild, fish vs. livestock, and so on), and maybe a few traditional recipes to share with your family.

Language and Religion

Mandarin Chinese (the national language) is spoken by more than 70% of the population and is also used in Singapore and Malaysia. China has 55 different ethnic groups, each with its own language or dialect.

Officially China is an atheist country, although it is not unusual to find some small religious groups as Taoists and Buddhists. Muslims represent 1% – 2% of the population and Christians 3% – 4%.

Increasingly, high schools in the U.S. are offering Mandarin instruction to prepare for cross-cultural relations. Mandarin is considered a “critical language,” meaning that the government and employers believe it is vital for growth.

Lifestyle and Family

The Confucian ethic of proper social and family relationships forms the foundation of Chinese society. The Chinese have a strong sense of family, and they respect hierarchy and interpersonal obligations. Parents expect to know when their children are going out and where they are going. Because parents tend to take a keen interest in their children’s education and expect them to study hard, they will typically set limits on going out or on recreational activities that might interfere with schoolwork.

Often, both parents in a family work outside the home. Families generally include one child, and it is not uncommon for a grandparent to live with the family.

Teen Life and Sports

Chinese students spend a great deal of their day in school engaged in studying. As described above, much of a Chinese teenager’s life revolves around his or her school. When not at school or engaged in school activities, teenagers get together at friends’ homes, go to movies, watch television or play sports. Soccer, ping-pong, handball, volleyball, basketball, Chinese traditional martial arts, and dance are all popular pastimes.

In the U.S., Chinese exchange students find joys in everyday American life. They attend high school, and become closely connected with your family during their time with you.


As AFS Host Families and Exchange Students around the world can tell you, understanding is the first step to friendship.

New to AFS? If you’d like to build bridges of understanding by becoming a host family for a Chinese student, please fill out our hosting interest form:

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