So, you've decided to host an exchange student! Your interest may have come from friends or coworkers hosting, a newspaper article you read, a tv or radio interview with students in your area, or maybe you meet a local coordinator (LC) from your area at an event in your town. Local coordinators are always on the lookout for families interested in hosting an exchange student! Your LC will be there to guide you through the application process, to help match you with your student, and to be there as a mentor, troubleshooter, and friend during your hosting experience. Utilize your local coordinator. You are not alone in this because your local coordinator is a great resource!
During my nine years of hosting, I have had four local coordinators to help me through this experience. Every year, my LC is great about asking what kind of experience I am looking forward to having in the upcoming school year. I try to research and rotate through countries and to read students' profiles to see if we would be a good fit together, and if I decide to have a double placement, I ask my LC how she feels about the possibility of two certain students with such diverse backgrounds and cultures coming together with me. I value the experience my local coordinators have gained by supervising many different countries and many different cultures.
I see my LC once a month at the local event put together for the area students to explore their new community, to participate in community service projects, or to experience American culture with Thanksgiving dinner and dishes from their own culture. If I do not see my local coordinator, I know she is only a phone call or text away. If I am having any questions about what to do in a situation, communication difficulties, medical emergencies, or my students did something amazing and I want to brag, I contact my LC.
Even after hosting for nine years, having 21 students come through my home, and being a local coordinator myself, I still contact MY local coordinator when I need to talk to someone. It is so helpful to have your LC to call or text when good things happen or when I need to get back up for the “house rules” I am trying to enforce. I may be a local coordinator, but I am still just a host parent who questions the decisions I am making sometimes, and I need to make sure my frustrations are reasonable and the “family talk” that is about to happen is normal. I know my LC is there for me when I need her!