Your hosted participant’s first days at school are likely to be confusing and overwhelming, so please plan to ensure they are not left alone to cope and make sure to ask A LOT of questions as many students may struggle in their first days/weeks to even know what questions to ask you or culturally it may be difficult for a student to ask for help.
Meeting People at School
If your hosted participant is the only child living at home, it is helpful to find someone in the same high school class to explain school routines and facilitate introductions to other teenagers. Consider reaching out to neighbors or even recent graduates to help make some introductions. AFS Returnees can be very helpful and understanding, given their own AFS experience. Your AFS Liaison is available to help you in identifying returnees and other means of support for your participant at school.
Participating in clubs, activities, volunteer activities, and sports are all tremendous ways for your AFS student to meet other students as there is likely to be some common interests among the other club or team members. If you are concerned about transportation to/from sports and other activities for your hosted student, chat with the coach to see if there are any team members who live near you that could help bring your student home on occasion or families with whom you could start a carpool.
Success & Connection at School
Outside of your home, your hosted participant will spend the majority of their time at school. Because of its importance in the continuation of their education, school is a very significant part of the AFS experience. If any question arises about your participant’s curriculum, particularly if it involves their education at home, please refer the matter to your local AFS Volunteer or liaison.
Please be advised that AFS is an academic program and hosted participants are required to attend school, complete assignments, and abide by all school policies. While AFS Participants are not required to maintain a specific grade point average (unless required by their host school), every AFS Participant should be prepared to make an honest effort in school, even if they have already graduated in their home country. They must attend school regularly, complete all assignments, and participate in class.
It is also very important that you and your host student discuss things like class participation, homework, and on-time arrival to class. Many students may be accustomed to a lecture-style classroom in their home country so raising their hand, speaking out in class, and asking teachers for help will all be new behaviors for them to grow into. Helping them understand the American expectation very early in the process will help them adjust to their U.S. school sooner.
Host families are asked to please contact their liaison should they find that their hosted participant is having any problems at school, or if the school expresses any concerns. Your liaison’s efforts in support of the hosted participant, your family, and the school are what set AFS apart from many other organizations, so please keep your liaison apprised of any situation which may be cause for concern.
Experienced Host Family Advice: Getting and keeping them busy in good, healthy ways is important and helps keep their minds off what they’re missing at home. Get them involved in school or outside activities, especially early in the year, even if it means some extra effort for you regarding transportation.