Each year since 1947, AFS Host Families volunteer for the unique and exciting experience of hosting an AFS Exchange Student from one of 90+ countries, hoping to have fun, learn something new and expand their horizons.

Today, the AFS mission of creating a more just and peaceful world is stronger and more important than ever. So what’s it like to join one of the biggest volunteer-driven communities on the planet? What unites AFS host families is their genuine hospitality, love of learning, and appreciation for other cultures.

We’ve taken 70 years of host family wisdom and bottled it down to 5 main reasons why they love hosting exchange students:

To embark on a fun, rewarding experience.

Welcoming a foreign teenager into your home makes the “Back to School” season more exciting than ever before. For first-timers and returning host families, there’s a certain thrill to having an exchange student join the family. Year, semester, and short-term hosting options are available.

To share their own cultural traditions, and to learn about other cultural customs.

When was the last time you discovered the joys of a festival from another culture? Or explained to someone why there’s a seventh inning stretch during a baseball game? Sharing your traditions with someone from another country can reveal a lot about one’s culture and history.

To help young people achieve their global and personal ambitions.

Many of our host families enjoy helping AFS Exchange Students experience life in another country. Host parents are (or have been) passionate educators, avid travelers, and former Peace Corps members. They care deeply about the educational development of youth around the world. AFS students like to say, “It’s not a year in a life, it’s a life in a year.”

To experience personal growth—and growth as a family.

We often hear that hosting brings families together. With an exchange student in the home, families do more activities together than they would have otherwise, from weekend road trips to jigsaw puzzles on a rainy Saturday. Through hosting, parents can also teach their children the values of cultural diversity, peace and tolerance and “practice what they preach.” Plus, exchange students can make excellent role models for younger siblings.

To join an organization and a community dedicated to creating a more just, peaceful and inclusive world.

For over 70 years, the AFS community has worked to build bridges of understanding between people of different cultures. Hundreds of thousands of families, students and volunteers worldwide have joined our mission of creating a more just and peaceful world. Our host families like the feeling of being part of something bigger.


Wondering if the hosting experience is right for your family? Get answers to our most commonly-asked questions, type in your zip code to meet the students coming to your area this fall, or let us know you’re interested in having a local AFS representative contact you.