PH International

Learn More About Hosting


Becoming a Host Family allows you and your guest(s) to learn about one another’s countries and cultures through immersion into your family. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions that may help you clarify what it “looks like” to be a host family:


What does the host family/guest relationship look like?

  • Each family forms a unique relationship with their guest. PH encourages you to treat your guest as a member of your family and to offer him/her a realistic introduction to American family life (whatever that means to you! We have a diversity of host families and are always seeking to expand that pool). Some families form incredibly close relationships with their guests and remain in contact for decades, while others simply choose to appreciate and soak in the time they spend together in person.

I don’t speak the language of my guest! How will we communicate?

  • Many exchange participants do speak English, but it is amazing how much can be communicated without a common spoken language. Singing and playing music can be wonderful ways to communicate, and showing family photo albums is also a good way to interact with your guest. Nowadays, although not always accurate, online translation tools are a great resource. We have also found that even the most fluent English speakers have been thrilled when their American hosts have made efforts to learn and use a few words in their guest’s native language.

How can I make my guest feel comfortable?

  • Efforts to make your guest’s surroundings more familiar can help him/her feel more comfortable. When your guest arrives, plan to spend some time getting to know each other and talking about expectations and needs on both sides. There is no better way to get to know your guest than over food and tea at the kitchen table.

Is it okay to set expectations/boundaries with my guests?

  • Of course! PH encourages you to treat your guest as a member of your family. While this means offering them a comfortable, safe home, it also means being able to communicate household rules and expectations. It is important to discuss any house rules with your guest at the outset, and to be clear when communicating your family schedules, values and behaviors. In addition, you should instruct your guest in the use of household equipment such as the television, stereo, stove, microwave, refrigerator, etc. It is perfectly okay, and even recommended, to encourage your guest to join in family activities or to help with household tasks such as preparing meals and clearing the table.

What meals are we responsible for and how should I know what to feed my guest?

  • Each program varies slightly, but PH International generally asks that you provide breakfast and dinner each week day and include your guests for all of your family meals on the weekend. Specific meal guidelines will be addressed per program. It is important to let your guest know ahead of time if and when he/she needs to prepare his/her own meals, including breakfast. It is nice to incorporate a “help yourself” mentality in the kitchen of your home, but it is not required. You may want to check your guest’s culinary preferences at the beginning of his/her stay by inquiring about their favorite foods. On the other hand, your guest is here to experience American culture and daily life, and you should not feel that you must recreate his/her traditional cuisine. Your guest will most likely be eager to try American foods and the wide variety of ethnic foods that are available in the United States.

  What should I do with my guest?

  • Your guest will take part in a variety of professional activities while they are in the United States, but often the most beneficial and memorable experiences for both American and foreign participants occur during time with host families. The more often you include your guest in family activities, the more rewarding your hosting experience will be. You may want to talk with your guest and determine activities of particular interest. Some ideas include: sporting events and games, hiking, walking, camping, fishing; music concerts and cultural events; shopping; tour of university or college; tour of local farm, local hospital, library, bank and post office; invitations to family events (weddings, graduations, dinner parties); and trips to historic sites and points of interest.

Are there any additional responsibilities/expenses I should anticipate as a host?

  • Depending on the program, you may be asked to drive your guest to and from a central meeting place not far from your home in the morning and in the evening. Transportation expectations will be clearly outlined on a program-by-program basis. Food and the gas you may use transporting your guest are the main expenses of being a host. Some hosts choose to take their guests to the movies, out to dinner, to see a show, etc. While this is a generous gesture, PH does not expect it, and we are lucky to have many free public activities available to us in Vermont. 

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