I mentioned a few weeks ago that we are a host family for an international student attending our local college, and I was asked to share more details about that. If you were to look into a program like this at your local institution, it might look quite different, but here's what it entails for us.
The host family program at our college has been in existence for decades, but this is just our second year participating. Most families who sign up are assigned a student, but in our case, we made a direct request. We were particularly interested in hosting Cristina, because a close friend of ours helped make it possible for Cristina to attend college here. She is from the poorest European country, and it is through generosity and God's grace that she finds herself in small town Iowa!
In the program we are part of, international students live on campus and not with their host families. Our role is to offer friendship and support, as well as a place where she can hang out, do laundry, and eat meals now and then. Because Cristina wasn't bringing much with her due to luggage, we compiled a list of her needs which friends and people in our church graciously helped provide. Eric has assisted her with registering for classes, setting up a bank account, and purchasing textbooks. She has regularly used our computer since we have a webcam and she can Skype with her family. We have had her over for quite a few meals, and we have helped her with an assigned paper on American culture. (Very interesting--she asked lots of questions about our values and beliefs.) On average, I would say we see her 2-3 times a week.
Cristina hopes to be here for four years, so the plan is that we will remain her host family during that time. Our kids love her. She is excellent with children, and she often brings them a little treat, which is a fun surprise for them!
Being a host family for an international student is a unique opportunity. We consider this commitment a part of our desire to show hospitality. If you have additional questions, I would be happy to answer them. Have a good weekend!