What Does AFS Expect of Us as Hosts?
As a host family, you have graciously volunteered to play the key supporting role during your hosted participant’s life-changing experience. No matter how hard you work to accommodate your hosted participant in your home, it’s probable that they will have to work even harder to make that mutual accommodation satisfactory. You will need to advise and assist your hosted participant as they face this unique challenge.
AFS expects that you provide a safe supportive environment for the hosted participant, and that you integrate them as a member of your family. As such, it is expected that you will:
- Provide the hosted participant with their own bed, in a bedroom shared with no more than one non-adult host sibling of the same sex.
- Cover basic, everyday expenses incurred by having the hosted participant in your home.
- Arrange for transportation to and from school.
- Provide all meals, including either lunch for school days (prepared by the host family or participants themselves) OR an allowance to purchase lunch in the cafeteria.
- When your family goes out for a meal, it is expected that you cover the cost of your hosted participant’s meal, as well.
In addition, we expect that you will utilize the services and support available to you through your local AFS Volunteers and national staff. This includes (but is not limited to) participating in orientations, engaging in monthly contact with your liaison, and facilitating in-home and in-person visits by AFS Volunteers as required by the US Department of State. Please review the Liaison Support & Monthly Contacts article for more information, and seek advice from your AFS Liaison as needed to help ensure that both your hosted participant and your family have the most enriching and enjoyable experience possible.
We also expect you to follow all other guidelines provided to you and help to ensure that your hosted participant does the same. As you embark on this journey, we ask that you engage in the support process of your student when needed, maintain an open mind and seek to learn, grow and adapt with them. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns regarding the content of this handbook with your local AFS Volunteer or AFS Participant Support staff, as needed.
An important expectation prior to your student's arrival is that host families attend a local Host Family Orientation. This gives you the opportunity to meet other host families, set expectations and ask questions about the hosting experience and meet local volunteers. Refer to this Host Family Orientation page for more information.
What Can We Expect as Hosts?
Each host family’s experience is unique; therefore, it is impossible to describe precisely what you can expect as hosts. However, there are ways in which you can obtain general information about what to expect in the coming year. Some guidelines are listed here:
Open the lines of communication with your hosted participant and their parent(s)/guardian(s) before arrival day. Send photos and emails or connect via social media. Keep in mind that participants’ social media presence might NOT reflect their “true” selves or their behavior while on program.
Consult with others who have hosted before you. If you do not know any experienced host families, ask your local AFS Volunteers to give you the names and contact information of families in your community that would be willing to talk about their hosting experiences. Experienced host families are a valuable resource and, although no two hosting experiences are the same, they can supply useful advice on what to expect while hosting and offer tips on how to deal with different situations.
Many host families find it helpful to read about their hosted participant’s culture, history, and geography ahead of time. You are encouraged to refer to the Cultural Exploration Tool which has been created to assist host families, local volunteers and students to collectively explore how culture may be impacting their experience. This resource allows the opportunity to share how culture may influence certain behaviors, ways of communicating and response to conflict. For an additional resource, culture-specific handbooks are available on the website,