Frequently Asked Qustions about Hosting:

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What do I do?

Host families will host a student for about 12 weeks and the timing is flexible and should be able to accommodate any other commitments you might have. Host families provide accommodation and provide meals for students and are responsible for their well-being. Students would normally have their own room. Host families set the rules of the house and for students coming and goings. The expectation is that the student should fit in with the family’s normal day to day life and have a real “kiwi” experience. Any trips or other activities that you might be able to include are appreciated but are a bonus


Must I have previous hosting experience?

No. Rotary will provide a briefing on the role, what to expect, and guidelines. You will be provided with a handbook for reference as needed and the student will have a Counsellor who also liaises with host families and is there to provide guidance and support if needed.


What if we have to be away or issues arise?

You will not be alone. You will be hosting on behalf of a local Rotary club and the student will have a Rotarian Counsellor that you can raise issues with or seek advice. There will also be other host families for the student so if you have to be away for a few days the counsellor will be able to make arrangements to cover this


What if I don’t have children at home?

This is not the problem that people expect. Exchange students are young adults keen to grow and develop and take on new experiences. Host families without children are often very special hosts as the life experiences of the host mum and dad are of interest to the student and these host parents often become mentors for the students who are looking to form their own views of the world. Additionally students will form their own network of friends at school and with other exchange students and often enjoy the special attention they receive in host families without host brothers or sisters.


What support is available?

The student will have a Rotarian counsellor who will keep in regular contact and provide assistance as necessary. You should never feel that you are alone without support or avenues for advice or guidance.


What rules are exchange students expected to follow?

Students are expected to

• Learn and follow the family’s rules

• Follow the local laws and customs in the exchange country

• Refrain from driving or operating a motorized vehicle of any kind

• Abide by Rotary International and district- and club-specific rules

District and club rules will be explained in orientation sessions. Host families are encouraged to establish rules and expectations early in areas such as:

• Normal household routines, including meal times, bedtimes, etc.

• Curfews

• House keys

• Emergency procedures, including phone numbers

• Local transportation

• Snacks and meals

• Religious practices

• Inviting friends home

• Phone and computer use



What are the consequences if a student breaks a rule?

Within your home, you should set consequences for the exchange student as you would for your own child. Make sure that the rules and consequences are very clear to the student. If problems arise or a student breaks a rule, it is the responsibility of the host family to contact the club (via the Students Counsellor in the first instance) or district Youth Exchange Committee to share any major issues that arise. In extreme cases, the host club and district may decide that it is best for the student to return home early. The final decision regarding a student’s early return is made by the governor of the host district in consultation with the district Youth Exchange committee.


What obligations do exchange students have to Rotary?

Students are expected to prioritize Rotary functions, such as club or district meetings, above other extracurricular and host family activities. They will be asked to give speeches at Rotary events detailing their exchange experiences. Host families may be invited to Rotary functions; your attendance may help the student feel more comfortable. Ask local Rotarians about the events your student is expected to attend, and ensure that the student prioritizes them.



How can I best prepare to host a student and what am I expected to do when they stay?

Before the exchange, learn as much as you can about the student’s culture, which may help prevent misunderstandings. Also, think about which aspects of your culture you would like to share with the student, such as types of food, entertainment, and local places of interest. In addition, contact the student and his or her parents as soon as you are provided with  the student’s name and contact information. You may extend a welcome and tell them about your family. The student may also appreciate your input on what types of clothing to bring and information about your community.

You are not expected to be a Michelin chef nor a tour guide. You should plan on sharing a typical kiwi lifestyle with the student and include them in your day to day family activities.



How should I welcome the student into my country?

A member of the student’s first host family should join Rotarians at the airport upon the student’s arrival. Many host families arrange an informal welcome party for the exchange student. Though students enjoy these gatherings as an excellent way to meet family friends and community members, consider holding this event at least a week after the student has arrived. Many students find it overwhelming to have a  welcome party immediately after they get off the plane. The student may be very tired and need a few days to recover from jet lag.

Host families should be prepared to discuss household rules with their student. This conversation is often best accomplished using the “first-night questions” list that you will be given and which helps set out many of the day to day household routines with questions such as  “Should I wash my own clothes?” and “May I help myself to food and drink at any time, or should I ask first?” Some families expect everyone to share tasks such as bed making and house cleaning, while some do not. It is best to cover these issues soon after the student has arrived.



What if the student doesn’t speak my language well?

Most students have a basic knowledge of the host country’s language, but book knowledge often does not prepare them for daily language use. Be open to potential misunderstandings and frustrations that may accompany communication with the student. Speak slowly, avoid using idioms, and be patient.

Make sure that the student understands important information, such as household rules, school issues, and transportation options. Do not hesitate to ask the student to repeat information back to you, and encourage the student to ask for clarification. As you help conquer the language barrier, you will be able to take great pride in the student’s accomplishments and will likely create an especially close bond that will last for many years.



How can I help the student adapt to my country?

It is common for students and host families to have misconceptions of each other’s cultures. What you may consider to be rude or unacceptable may be normal behavior in the student’s culture and vice versa. It is important to communicate clearly with your exchange student about any cultural misunderstandings. Your district may also offer intercultural orientation to address such concerns.

Try to treat the student as a member of your family rather than as a guest. Also, think of how you would like your own child to be treated on an exchange, and implement these ideas in your home.

Host parents are encouraged to have students address them with an informal title, such as “mum” or “dad,” so they feel part of the family. Find a title that both you and the student are comfortable with. Developing a strong relationship will ensure a positive experience for everyone.



How do I learn about my student’s medical history and needs?

The host district will have the student’s recent medical history with the application materials. You should be informed of any special medical needs, such as medications, allergies, dietary requirements, and prescription glasses or contact lenses.

Students are required to have their own medical insurance. You can ask for a copy of this policy and any additional medical documentation to keep on file while the student is living with you. Host families are not responsible for exchange student medical expenses.

Students may have special dietary needs related to health, religion, or personal preference. Encourage them to try new foods, but always respect their preferences, and do not force foods upon them.


So how do we become a host family?

Use the “Contact us” link if you would like more information or if you want to become a host family.