Host Families


Thank you for opening your homes to AFS-USA Exchange Students.  The students are so eager to meet you! We are hoping this will be an exciting and enlightening experience for both you and your student.  We want to share some information that we hope you will find useful.


Your student's travel arrangements to the US are arranged by the AFS organization in his/her home country. All students coming to our area will fly into SEATAC airport, then get bussed together to Portland on EITHER August 7 or 8, depending on their itinerary. THIS IS WHEN YOU WILL BE PICKING UP YOUR STUDENT. Please make sure someone in your family is available to pick them up. The pick up location will be at the Best Buy parking lot  (at Cascade Station near PDX, 9739 NE Cascades Pkwy, Portland, OR 97220). Please note that students coming via government "sponsored programs" (e.g., FLEX, YES, CBYX) may have later and/or different arrival times and if you are hosting one of these students, you will be contacted separately.


  • We’ll set up a Facebook group soon for the 2019-2020 hosting year.  If you’re on Facebook, please request to join the group to keep up with discussions, share ideas, ask questions, and get to know others.  If you are already in touch with your Exchange Student, encourage him or her to join the group as well. Once the page is created, you wil need to send a request to join the group at: 2019-2020 AFS Columbia Pacific
  • In addition, our communications coordinator will send out emails with important information.


If you have not finished your online Host Family Orientation, please do so. The login and password are the same ones you used for your host family application. Your student will not be allowed to travel without all paperwork completed. Please contact Shaun Sullens, our local staff person, if you need assistance.
Phone646-381-3384 Email:


To ensure that this is indeed a positive experience, AFS has two required Host Family Orientations.  One is done online (which you should have already completed) and the other in-person. 

The US Department of State requires every host family to attend an in-person host family orientation. The in-person dates are scheduled as follows:

  • Sunday, JUNE 30 - 3:00 - 5:30 pm at the McMenamin's Kennedy School, Community Room, 5736 NE 33rd Ave., Portland OR 97211
  • Sunday, JULY 21 - 2:00 - 4:30 pm at the Clackamas Fire Station, 9339 SE Causey Ave., Happy Valley, OR 97086
  • Sunday, AUGUST 4 - 2:00 - 4:30 pm at the Camas/Washougal Fire Station #42, 4321 NW Parker St., Camas WA 98607
  • Sunday, AUGUST 4 - 3:00- 5:30 pm in Tillamook, location TBD (contact Julia Kettner, (503) 812-9995)
You are only required to attend one of these sessions. One adult per family is required, however, we recommend having both parents attend.


The students have FOUR additional orientations throughout the year, mandated by the US Department of State.  This gives AFS volunteers the opportunity to ensure that the students are adapting to our culture, developing interpersonal relationship skills with family and friends, maintaining safe habits and succeeding in school. The students are REQUIRED to attend these. Mark your calendar! Please do NOT schedule any travel or family activities on these dates.  
  • Arrival:  August 10, Location and time TBD (additional orientations will be scheduled for students that are unable to arrive during this week)
  • Post Arrival: October 5 & 6, Camp Magruder (this is an "overnight" at Rockaway Beach, Oregon)
  • Mid-Year: Tentative - Saturday 25, January 25, 2020 (location and time  TBD)
  • Pre-Return: Tentative -  May 16, 2020 (location and time TBD)
  • End of Stay: June 22, 2020 (location and time TBD)

The Host Family Handbook is available here:  AFS Host Family Handbook
It is filled with information that will help you to have a more successful year with your student.
Medical and Tax Information: AFS Host Family Medical, Tax & Other information
Travel while on program:  Travel Information & Waivers

If you have completed your online application, including all required background checks, in person interview, the school has signed a “placement acceptance form”, and you have been officially acknowledged as a new host family, you are welcome to begin communicating with your student. Your "congratulations" email from AFSUSA allows you to access the student's application with all of their information as to contact email, home address, phone, etc. The application will also contain transcripts, medical records (including immunizations), and other information you will need in order to enroll your student in your local high school (more on this below...) Skype and WhatsApp are commonly available in most countries and are great for allowing face-to-face communication without incurring long distance charges. Your student will have all sorts of questions for you as to who you are, what you like to do, what their school will be like, etc. And you will have questions for them too! Feel free to start getting them thinking about what they will need for clothing (summer and winter). You also may want to share with them the high school's website in order to get them thinking about classes they might want to take. AFS and US Department of State requires them to carry a full load of classes. AFS recommends they take an English class (appropriate to their level of English fluency) and US history. Other than these two classes, they are welcome to take whatever other classes they might enjoy as many of the classes offered in US schools, particularly art and music, may not be available in their home country.


Your student will have already been granted permission to attend your local high school. However, your student is NOT enrolled at this point. It is up to you as the host parent to follow through to ensure he/she is enrolled, including meeting your state's requirements for immunizations. Most, if not all, school districts in Oregon and Washington are set up to receive enrollment documents online. More information on school enrollment, eligibility to play on sports teams, class selection, payment of fees, medical forms, etc. will be discussed at host family orientation.


While this training is optional, we STRONGLY encourage all family members, including siblings, to attend. We hope at least one host parent can attend. Many of the problems that occur during the exchange experience occur as a result of cultural differences. Recognizing those differences, and learning methods to adjust to them early in the exchange experience will alleviate trouble later on. Date(s) for this training have not yet been set but will be announced soon.  Keep checking back for more information.


Each Exchange Student/Host Family is assigned a volunteer Liaison who is required to check in with the student and the Host Family each month.  They are also required to check in with the student’s school on a quarterly basis.  This is a US State Department requirement.  You can read more about the role of the Liaison, from AFS Help and Learning, if you wish.
Please work with your Student and your Liaison to ensure that these monthly check-ins happen (some must be in-person, but some can be via telephone). 
You will be notified once your Liaison has been determined.  We encourage Host Families and Liaisons to meet, even before the students arrive to get to know each other and to learn family dynamics.