Host Family Blog

  • An Open Letter from a Thai AFSer on Hosting

    An open letter from Grace, a Thai AFSer, on his experience as an exchange student and why some Thai students struggle to find host families in the U.S.

  • Welcoming a Host Daughter, Gaining a Friend: An Interview with Emily Humphrey

    Emily Humphrey shares the heartwarming story of her relationship with her host daughter Lulu, the power of the #AFSEffect, and the value of intercultural learning.

  • Coming Home: An Interview with AFS Alum, Stephen Zhang (China to U.S., ’07-’08)

    AFS Alum Stephen Zhang discusses his stellar academic achievements, the importance of embracing cultural differences, and how he’s created a home for himself in the U.S.

  • Hosting with Pride: An Interview with Six-Time AFS Host Parent and Volunteer, Jerry Gulley

    Six-Time AFS Host Parent and Volunteer, Jerry Gulley discusses the deep and extended impact of hosting an exchange student and how other LGBTQ+ people can become host families.

  • LGBTQ+ Pride Across Cultures: An Interview with AFS Returnee and Senior Staff, Melvin Harmon

    Melvin Harmon didn't know he was gay when he went to Malaysia with AFS in 1980, but he knew he was different. Studying abroad helped him find the confidence to be himself.

  • “What culture?” – Why rural areas are perfect for cultural exchange

    Rural areas are ideal places to experience cultural exchange, from small-town high school spirit to traditional folk cultures, tightknit communities, and more!

  • What Makes a Global Citizen?

    While it may seem like an abstract concept, AFS is committed to helping everyone cultivate their global citizenship through real-life action and intercultural exchange.

  • What it’s Like to Host an Exchange Student

    Hosting an AFS Exchange Student opens your family to the world! We provide a glimpse into what it's like, answers to common questions, and what we do to support you.

  • 6 lessons from the AFS Returnee who went to space

    As Italy's first female astronaut, AFS Returnee Samantha Cristoforetti proves that study abroad can be a launchpad for lifelong exploration.

  • My Multigenerational AFS Family

    Rachel Salia reflects on her father’s transformational experience as an AFSer (Ghana to Ohio, ‘73) and the ripple effect of international exchange.

  • 10 Thank Yous from Hosted Students to their Teachers

    We gave our hosted students the chance to thank their teachers for making them feel welcome in their classrooms and chose ten of our favorite messages.

  • Say “Yes!” to Hosting: The Lounibos Family

    The AFS 2018 Reel Life Winners, The Lounibos Family, share their thoughts on how Lison, their host daughter, changed their lives!

  • The Top AFS Welcome Signs!

    Over the years, AFS Host Families have created such sweet welcome signs to greet their host students. We've compiled a slideshow of ten of our favorite signs!

  • Jenny & Beth’s Multicultural Home: "Two is better than one"

    Host moms Jenny O. and Beth R. discuss their host sons, Lorenzo from Italy and Nihat from Germany, and how they bonded over the simple pleasures of everyday life as a family.

  • How student exchange enriched a Bay Area school...with robotics!

    Mate Pluhar, an AFS Student from Hungary, made a positive impact in his community by bringing back robotics to his host high school.

  • Celebrating Diversity this 4th of July

    Celebrate July 4th this year by celebrating multiculturalism and recognizing the importance of exposing ourselves to new cultures.

  • AFS Reel Life Finalist Announced

    Kudos to the following 25 host families and their exchange students for advancing to the final round of the Reel Life contest.

  • Here’s why your family should host an exchange student from Italy (or another country)

    American families can gain cultural understanding by hosting foreign exchange students from Italy or one of 80 other countries.

  • Letters from this year's exchange students to next

    Exchange students from the Carolinas spent their Saturday together to consider the year they are wrapping up and what it will be like as they return - and offer their wisdom.

  • 5 things you always wanted to know about hosting an exchange student

    AFS host parent Erica dishes out advice, muses on the benefits of cultural exchange programs, and explains why cookbooks are key to a great hosting experience.

  • 5 Reasons Being an Older Host Sister is the Best

    My family made the decision to host an AFS student of our own for the very first time. I'd like to share a few reasons why being an older host sister is the best!

  • AFS families create global friendships that last a lifetime

    When Jacque's family decided to host Yokko, an AFS Exchange Student from Japan, the two women began an international friendship that would span 55 years.

  • AFS Host Mom Nudrat Shares Her Experience Hosting an International Student

    Nudrat I. from Minnesota explains her reasons for hosting and how sharing the year with an exchange student from India has impacted her family.

  • AFS Exchange Student Nicolette Shares Her Message for Peace

    Nicolette from South Africa shows what it means to spread cultural understanding during her exchange year and beyond.

  • My study abroad story: People welcomed me with an open heart

    Aqsa shares her first impressions of being accepted in the Pacific Northwest as an AFS Exchange Student.

  • AFS Exchange Student Reflects on Her Year in North Carolina

    On her way to giving a presentation at the Harvard School of Public Health, Deniz from Turkey returned to Chapel Hill, NC to visit her former AFS Host Parents.

  • One family says “welcome back!” to their AFS student

    The Dordal/Boyd family from Olympia, Washington was excited to reunite this summer with their former exchange student, Gamze from Turkey.

  • How you can enrich your family life this fall

    After a friend of theirs decided to host an AFS Exchange Student, Margaret and Matthew C. from Michigan were curious to see what it was all about.

  • From Ghana to California: A Year of Precious Moments

    Philip looks back fondly at his exchange year with the Grace family in California.

  • Exchange student leaves behind legacy in Wisconsin

    For Maryse, an AFS Exchange Student from Lebanon, volunteering was a way to spread understanding in her host community.

  • One host mom shares the value of seeing through another person’s eyes

    Over the past few years, Deb C. and her family have enjoyed broadening their horizons by welcoming AFS high school exchange students into their home.

  • How one Florida dad gained another daughter

    Of his time with his current exchange student, Adriana from Germany, Chris recalls making "20 million memories, the greatest of which is life."

  • 5 Reasons Families Love to Host Exchange Students

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

  • 6 Global Recipes to Spice up Your Summer

    We've picked some of our favorite dishes from around the world to bring a little global flair to your next family brunch, block party, or backyard cookout!

  • Why one Texas mom is upgrading to Texas “host mom”

    Lara and her family in Texas are proudly counting themselves among the newest families eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first AFS Exchange Student.

  • Bringing the world into your home: The unexpected effects of hosting an exchange student

    An AFS Host Mom discusses how she and her family spread peace through understanding.

  • 8 reasons having a host son is the absolute best

    Hosting an international exchange student is a great way to learn about another culture, but it's also a whole bunch of fun!

  • Just Being a Family... with an Exchange Student

    Here's what a few new host parents have to say about their family's decision to host for the first time.

  • Meet 11 teenage exchange students from Germany!

    Introducing our “starting lineup” of AFS Exchange Students from Germany! These young men and women are coming to the U.S. to begin their exchange year.

  • 4 Ways to Experience Brazilian Culture during the Rio Olympics

    As you watch the games in Rio de Janeiro, here are some other ways you can soak up Brazilian art, music, and cuisine without leaving home.

  • 7 International Recipes to Try this Summer

    Trying new food is a great way to experience another culture. Have you ever wondered what "comfort food" is like in China?

  • Easy ways to accommodate your gluten-free exchange student

    When you host an international exchange student with AFS, your family has the chance to try lots of new ingredients and ways of preparing them.

  • Becoming "Mom and Dad" to an exchange student from Turkey

    Welcoming a Turkish teenager into their home has given the Dordal/Boyd family the chance to really explore another culture and encourage diversity in their community.

  • What It’s Like to Host an Exchange Student from the Middle East

    For James and Karen Graham, hosting an international exchange student has been a way to explore new cultures and make a positive impact.

  • 7 things that make Chinese culture unique: A guide for host families

    To help you get to know your Chinese exchange student, we've compiled a list of 7 everyday practices that are common in China.

  • A Spotlight on the Reel Life Contest President’s Award Winners

    The Dordal/Boyd family and Gamze from Turkey had their video chosen as the highest quality submission of the AFS Reel Life Host Family Contest.

  • A Spotlight on the Reel Life Grand Prize Winners

    Find out what the Williams family—the winners of this year’s Grand Prize—have to say about their unique experience hosting Andre, a high schooler from Brazil.

  • Congratulations to the Winners of the 2016 Reel Life Contest!

    The results are in! We're happy to announce the Grand Prize winner and the President's Award winner of the Reel Life Contest.

  • Photo tips for your Reel Life entry

    Looking for more pointers on how to create an awesome photo submission for the Reel Life contest? Then you're in luck!

  • 3 tips for your AFS Reel Life submission

    Focus on a favorite moment from your AFS hosting experience by drawing inspiration from contest winners, the Cagle family.

  • For Valentine's Day, AFS travels the world to celebrate love

    AFS exchanges prove that love can cross the globe and span generations. For Valentine’s Day, we’re indulging in some of the most inspiring AFS love stories.

  • Welcome one of these teenage scholars from Malaysia

    These Malaysian high school students are eager to introduce themselves to you.

  • 3 Commonly-Asked Questions About Hosting Exchange Students... Answered

    When people hear that our family hosts exchange students, we tend to get a lot of the same questions.

  • Tourist for the day: 20 exchange student activity ideas for you and your international visitor

    Whether you’re hosting a high school exchange student or your relatives from abroad are visiting, these quintessential American activities are sure to break the ice.

  • Share your America with an Exchange Student this Fall

    Introduce your hometown traditions to a high school exchange student coming to the U.S. for the fall semester.

  • AFS Welcome Families make a world of difference

    Learn about hosting an exchange student for a few weeks as an AFS welcome family.

  • Emotions and Fulfillment Run High at AFS Departure Day

    Every summer, we have to say goodbye to our 2,000+ international AFS exchange students. View photos from this emotional event and see signs of exchange's impact.

  • Celebrating Father’s Day: 11 Unique Traditions from Around the World

    Father’s Day is celebrated all over the globe. While a BBQ in late June is a popular way to honor fathers in the United States, customs and timings vary by country.

  • 7 Ways that AFSers Celebrate Cultural Diversity

    We recently asked members of the AFS community to tell us how they celebrate cultural diversity and promote global awareness.

  • 6 Words Exchange Students Use to Describe their Host Moms

    AFS exchange students from around the world explain how a perfect stranger became "Mom."

  • AFS Exchange Students Bring Culture, Siblings to Only Child

    Becoming involved with AFS since 2000 has been wonderful and probably in my experience, as a host sister, one of the best things my family has ever decided to do.

  • A host sister's perspective - Gaining a sister and an open mind

    My family's experience hosting a foreign exchange student has helped shape who I am today.

  • The Benefits of Hosting

    Hosting has been a wonderful way to enrich our family's lives. We now have stamps in our passports from Greece, Peru, Ghana, Sardinia, Germany, and France.

  • A once-in-a-lifetime experience

    The exchange experience has made a positive impact that will last a lifetime for all of us.

  • Global family; lifetime of hosting starts with "Welcome"

    We have gotten to know many wonderful young people, families and volunteers through our affiliations with AFS. Looking forward to traveling and visiting a lot of the young people.

  • How hosting an exchange student kept me sane after study abroad

    After 10 months in Indonesia, a study abroad returnee discovers a powerful way to ease her transition back into American life.

  • The More Holidays the Merrier!

    For one AFS host family, celebrating both U.S. and Thai holidays makes this time of year more festive than ever.

  • A Lifetime of Intercultural Exchange

    Hosting an exchange student does more than impact your family's year; It can alter the course of your lives forever.

  • 4 Families Share their Words of Wisdom

    AFS Host Families give advice to those new to hosting.

  • 10 Ways a Teenager from Abroad Changed Our lives

    There are infinite ways that hosting an exchange student can change your life for the better. Here are 10 of our favorites.

  • AFS Family Crosses Globe, Generations

    AFS truly makes the world a smaller place...We all told Samuel that there was no denying that he was right where he was supposed to be.

  • The World Outside Your Newsfeed

    Is there a limit to how much the internet can teach us - and our kids - about the world?

  • Lifelong Impact Goes Both Ways

    One Pennsylvania family talks about their experience hosting two Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study students.

  • How Our Child Fell in Love with 2 Teenagers from Abroad

    Hosting Exchange Students gave our daughter, Hanna, something we've always wanted for her - a brother and sister.

  • The AFS Experience Described in a Word

    A few AFS Exchange Students give meaning to their AFS year before they leave the US.

  • "Dear Potential Host Family..."

    Shortly before returning home to Italy, AFS Exchange Student, Valeria, composed a letter to potential U.S. host families.

  • My host family was...

    AFS Exchange Students from around the world choose one word to describe their US host families.

  • Far Fewer than Six Degrees of Separation

    On a trip to Italy, U.S. Host Parents Gayle and Randy discover what a small world it can be when you're part of the AFS community.

  • 15 Reasons We Think Dads Are Really Superheroes in Disguise

    We all secretly want to believe that superheroes are real. Here's why we suspect many are just disguised as dads and host dads.

  • Double the Culture, Double the Fun

    Host families can host two students at a time. Some decide hosting two is better than one and find the hosting experience is even more rewarding.

  • Hosting for a Semester

    Host families have the option to host a semester student arriving in August and departing in January.

  • How Does Hosting Impact Families?

    Former host families in northwest Ohio reflect on how hosting AFS Exchange Students transformed them.

  • Hanna gets a big sister and brother!

    The Walters family gives their natural daughter the gift of siblings by hosting exchange students from Germany and Italy.

  • AFS Exchange Transforms African and American Lives

    Martin’s incentive to also “share” what he has learned with his own country and community has also had a transforming effect on us, his American family.

  • You think English is easy?

    One host mom analyzes the English language and reflects on how her host daughter struggled with its quirks.

  • 13 Reasons Our Exchange Student Thinks Our Family is Crazy

    We're all a little bit crazy. Here's what those quirky habits, odd rituals and funny family traditions look like through the eyes of a foreign exchange student!

  • It's Host Family Appreciation Month!

    This month, we're telling AFS host families how grateful we are for the generosity, kindness and commitment. Here's how you can, too!

  • Brrr Celsius

    As Ratu entered the car this morning, Anee from the back seat said “Ratu – what temperature is it???” To which I swore I heard Ratu reply “It’s Brrr Celsius!”

  • Lunchable?

    Cultural misunderstandings can be enlightening experiences that shed light for both the student and family, as one mom explains.

  • Hosting Impacts Career Path of Host Sister

    A host sister reflects on how having a student from Greenland in her home when she was 13 later impacted her career decisions and life.

  • Whirlwind of a Year

    One host family keeps in touch with their Italian daughter over the years and miles.