This guide serves as a general introduction to the PEP and provides an overview of host family expectations and responsibilities.
A host family is a vital part of the cultural exchange, immersing the student in a variety of activities while in the host country. The host family plays a
large role in offering the student a view of another country and gains the opportunity to learn about a new culture from a young leader. The following
information will help prepare host families willing to explore the challenge of welcoming a student into their home for a meaningful exchange.
Hosting is a tremendous experience in which you can share in a young person’s hopes and dreams and develop a lifelong connection with a
student and family from another country. It can be challenging to help a young person transition to a new culture and ease into the surroundings
but the rewards are immeasurable. Host families in the PEP come in all shapes and sizes. They can be TSC Hurricane current or previous families and may include young children, older children, or no children at all at their home.
Requirements of the host family
What is expected of a host family?
Hosting a student can be an extremely rewarding experience for everyone in the family, yet it is a role that requires a lot of responsibility. Host families are to meet the following expectations:
Before the student arrives
• Establish communication with the student.
• Understand and develop the house/club rules that the student must follow.
• Have discussions with your family about what to expect and prepare your home.
During the exchange
• Provide a safe and welcoming environment for trust and friendship to develop between the student and your family.
• Support and make the student feel like a part of the family, with the same privileges and obligations.
• Gently encourage the student to learn and adopt most of the ways of your household.
• Provide room and board for the student. All students must have their own bed. If the student must share a room, it should be with a child of the same gender and similar age.
• Provide a place in the home where the student may study in private.
• Recognize the student’s birthday and other special occasions.
• Ensure the student knows how to contact family members, friends, and other support networks.
• In case of an emergency, know how to access and use the student’s travel insurance policy.
• Voice any concerns and questions regarding the student to the TSC Hurricane PEP Leaders, including serious homesickness, difficulty adapting to family life or school, or illness.
• Maintain close contact with the host club, and address problems and concerns quickly.
• Exercise supervisory and parental responsibility to ensure the student’s well being.
• Encourage involvement in community life by introducing the student to neighbors, friends, and local groups.
• Teach the student about the local culture, and learn about the student’s culture.
• Advise the student about matters related to school, family, community functions, and friendship.
How long will the student be living with my family?
Most PEP players would plan to live with two or three host families during their entire experience. Host families can expect the student to live with them for at least one soccer/academic year.
Are host families paid?
No. However, you may be entitled to tax deductions. Please check with your Tax Advisor to see if you are eligible. Some anxiety is to be expected if you have never hosted an exchange student. Be sure you are comfortable with the idea before committing to serve as a host family. If you have serious reservations, feel that you cannot meet your obligations, or do not have adequate answers to your questions, please contact TSC Hurricane PEP Leaders.
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
• Abide by TSC Hurricane and school specific rules
Club rules can 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, and study hours
• House keys
• Emergency procedures, including phone numbers
• Local transportation
• Snacks and meals
• Religious practices
• Inviting friends home
• Phone and computer use
PEP Player Students
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 to share any major issues that arise. In extreme cases, the club 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 TSC Hurricane in consultation with the family and the foreign club sponsor.
What is my role with the exchange student’s school?
All long-term exchanges require students to attend a full academic program. As the host family, you are expected to ensure that the student becomes acclimated to a new school. Understand that the student may be coming from a vastly different educational system and may need some guidance about local school procedures. For this reason, the first host family should consider visiting the school counselor with the student to tour the grounds and ensure that he or she is comfortable with the class schedule. Advise the student against taking a rigorous course load while adjusting to a new culture, language, and school. Make sure the student knows the way to and from school, transportation options, and the procedure for getting lunch.
What challenges might the student experience during the exchange?
• Language difficulty
• Challenges making new friends
• Difficulty interpreting culture-specific social cues
• Host-family conflicts
• Different rules and expectations from their home
• Various emotional difficulties
How will I know when the student is facing these difficulties?
• Does not seem to be learning the language of the host country
• Does not talk about new friends or positive activities
• Spends excessive time alone
• Calls home frequently or spends too much time online
• Becomes irritable or has angry outbursts
• Becomes anxious or depressed
• Does not perform well in school
What should I do?
• Talk to the student about the signs you are seeing.
• Ask open-ended questions, allowing the student to talk freely.
• Help the student find activities to become involved in.
• Offer or help arrange for additional language assistance.
• Encourage the student to talk to a TSC Hurricane coach.
• Notify TSC Hurricane PEP Leaders if the student is encountering any exceptional problems such as illness, significant difficulty adapting to the host family or school, anxieties about family matters, or serious homesickness.
How are students selected?
PEP Players will come from clubs with a TSC Hurricane relationship and therefore will have gone through a vetting process. Students who demonstrate flexibility and an open mind, have an above-average academic record, and are involved in community and extracurricular activities are encouraged to apply.
How can I best prepare to host a student?
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 Rotarians provide 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
How should I welcome the student into my country?
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” offered by many districts. Examples of these include “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
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
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 “mom” 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?
TSC Hurricane will be informed of the student’s recent medical history. You should be informed of any special medical needs, such as medications, allergies, dietary requirements, and prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Host families should have medical insurance and be willing to add the player to their family policy.
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.
• Regularly communicating with the student’s guidance counselor and teachers
• Arranging enrollment, paying for tuition, and addressing other educational matters with the local secondary school (for long-term exchanges)
How to apply to be a host family
How do I apply to become a host parent? Apply to be a Host Family.
Generally, host parents must complete a written application, which includes program rules and requirements, a signed statement, and
authorization for reference checks.
Statement of Conduct for Working with Youth
TSC Hurricane strives to create and maintain a safe environment for all youth who participate in PEP or any TSC Hurricane program. To the best of their ability, TSC Hurricane must safeguard the children and young people they come into contact with and protect them from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. All PEP Host Family Adults must go through a Risk Management process for a background check.
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