Parting can be one of the most difficult aspects of your hosting experience, and we would like to stress that you are not alone with the mixed emotions you may be experiencing. Of course, your reactions to separation are most likely a reflection of the quality of your time together. Even if your joint experience was very good, it is not uncommon for you and your student to experience difficulties toward the end of his or her stay, largely because you are both uncertain of the nature of your future relationship.
You and your student may have different ways of expressing the emotions that you are feeling regarding the upcoming departure. Due to the varying experiences of host families and students, not every host family will experience the stages of emotion described below.
Saying goodbye and the stages of acceptance
As members of a host family, it is possible to experience a sense of denial that your student is leaving, which often leads to unwarranted feelings of anger toward other members of your family, toward AFS, or even toward your student.
You and your student may have discussed ways to avoid separation by arranging for him/her to stay beyond the homestay period or to be reunited with you in the near future. Gradually these reactions will give way to a healthy acceptance that your student must return home, and you will for the most part resume your normal lifestyles. At this stage, your student will likely come to the same realization and will attempt to get the most out of his/her remaining time with you.
And finally, upon the departure of your student, you will be able to implement realistic plans for future contact and to be joyful for the time that you had together. Keep in mind that the departure of your student does not indicate the end of your relationship. Instead, it can be simply a landmark in a long-lasting and meaningful personal relationship.
Think back to the first day with your student and how much has happened since then. We sincerely hope that your hosting experience has been a rewarding one.
It requires great courage and benevolence to open your home to students of another culture, and we are most grateful to you for your generosity. Your role as a host family is invaluable to accomplishing the mission of AFS – to work toward a more just and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural learning experiences.