Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do You Want to Host?

Although we do not plan to host next year for a variety of reasons, I highly recommend that people who are interested in hosting submit an interest form to AFS and listen to what they have to say about the hosting experience!!!  If in reading my blog, you’ve felt interested in hosting in any way, please visit http://www.afsusa.org and let them know that you’d like to know more about hosting!  There are students who will be desperate for a host family this spring and summer, and you could be the host parent who makes a student’s dreams into a reality!

If anyone has any questions for our family about anything we haven’t covered here on the blog, please feel free to leave a comment with your questions.  Comments are hidden pending my approval, but I do get an email with the comments and then I can “publish” them.  I will address any questions about hosting that I can!

The big question we get about hosting is:  Would I get paid to host a student?

The answer is no.  You are providing your student with a home and meals and other expenses as you would your own child.  The rule our AFS liaison suggested to us was that anything we did as a family, we should plan to include Penny and budget appropriately for that.  If she wants to do something on her own or with friends, she should plan to use her own money.

Penny did come with plenty of spending money, and we told her on her arrival that she’d have to use her own money to purchase her school supplies, souvenirs, and the like.  We do however cover food if we all go out to eat, regular groceries (she does occasionally buy her own snacks), occasional toiletries (she likes to cover some of these on her own), and travel.  For instance, when we traveled to Florida, we bought Penny’s plane ticket.  She did pay for her own ticket to DisneyWorld, however, even though we did not ask her to.  We do not give her money to go to the mall or movies with friends, we do not give her money to buy clothing and shoes and CD’s, and the like.  She is responsible for her own finances and her family has provided her with a pot of money for the things she needs.  She occasionally does not know if something is a good deal/cheap or not, so she does ask our advice on purchasing items and tries to compare the prices with what she’d pay if she were buying a similar item in Thailand.  She will not purchase jeans here, as she feels they are quite expensive, in contrast to European students who feel jeans here are quite cheap!

Just before we started our exchange year, AFS sent us a letter for tax purposes, and you can claim a certain amount of money as a charitable contribution per month.

Another question we have been asked by friends is:  What do you have to do as a host family?

The only thing AFS requires is that you provide the student their own bed, three square meals a day, and treat them as you would any other member of the family.  As long as you are willing and able to provide the basics, you can be a host family!  Your student can even share a bedroom with a sibling of the same gender, close in age.

By our nature, we tend to travel a lot.  Penny has seen a pretty good portion of the country already and will be seeing a few more spots along the way.  However, she has spoken to some of the kids she met in Thailand before coming to the US and their experience has been that they don’t travel at all.  We simply have friends and family all over the place and choose to spend as much time as possible visiting them.  Penny indicated a strong interest in travel before she arrived during the course of our pre-exchange emails and so we are more than happy to even add in an extra trip (NYC) so that she could see the country some more.  There are places she’d like to see that we are just not going to get to (Las Vegas and California).  But other families might decide to try and make that happen for their students! 

I have been really impressed at the breadth of opportunities my fellow host families have offered their students this year—travel, theater, sports, etc.  No exchanges have been even close to the same, but it has been a lot of fun to see the students busy with their exchanges and families.

Anyway, there are a couple of questions and answers.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have any others!

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