AFS Welcome Families make a world of difference

What is a welcome family?

Yannis and his host family.

A welcome family provides a home and a warm welcome for a student for approximately 6-12 weeks. During this time, AFS-USA works to identify a permanent home for the student in the same community. By becoming a welcome family, you’ll be the first family an exchange student meets when they arrive in the U.S.

What’s it like to host an exchange student?

Yannis and his host family.

Hosting an exchange student can be the experience of a lifetime! Through hosting, you'll increase cross-cultural understanding and awareness in both your home and community.

There are great benefits to welcoming an international visitor, no matter who you are. For example, families with young children may discover that an exchange student can be a role model and inspire curiosity about the world. “Empty-nester” households may find great joy in having a youthful member of the family and learning about a new culture.

Click here to find out what real host families have to say about their experience.

Can I be a welcome family and still get the benefits of hosting?

Larissa and her host family.

Yes! Even a short experience can impact your view of the world. In just a few weeks, you and your exchange student can make a memorable connection and share cultures.

The flexibility of being able to host for a short time can mean the difference between having to pass on the experience and opening your home to the world. Plus, families who wish to extend the length of hosting after the initial "welcome" period may be able to do so.

Will the student and my family get along, knowing it’s only temporary?

Stephane and his host mother.

Exchange students are generally thrilled to begin their exchange year in the U.S. They understand the impact welcome families have by helping them to arrive on time and get acclimated to American life.

What kind of impact do welcome families make?

Kiran and her host mother.

By becoming a welcome family for an international high schooler, you're helping to make a young person's study abroad dream a reality. Here's what a few AFS students have to say about the life-long impact of their welcome parents.

Kiran from Pakistan wrote this heart-warming letter to her "welcome" host mom Linda on Mother's Day:

"HAPPY MOTHER's day mom. I wanna let you know that how blessed and lucky I feel to have found a mom like you. You stayed by my side and looked after me through thick n thin. You are someone who never gave up on me no matter how hard situations got. I feel lucky to be blessed with 3 moms at a time who made a foreign country feel like home. There is no way I could have asked for a better friend and mom. I love you and thank you so much for giving me your love and support."

Lukas from Germany was also eager to express his gratitude to Bernice and Ron, the first host parents he met in the U.S.:

Bernice, Thank you so much for hosting me in the first month of my stay. Without you I might have not come to the US [on time] and [would have] missed out on a lot. I also want to thank Ron for letting me [be] part of the family. It’s been a nice time with you and I admire you as a person. All the best to you and Ron. - Lukas, from Germany

If you’d like to learn more about the students who will be coming to your area this fall, please visit our Meet the Students page! (Each AFS student has a short bio so you can learn more about their interests and personality, to see if you’ve found a match for your family!)