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host family tips: how to say "see you later"

Saying goodbye to your exchange student who has become a family member is tough - read some tips on how host families ease the transition.

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In 1987, Jana’s family in small-town Kentucky hosted Lise, an EF exchange student from Denmark. Here they are in high school – big 80’s hair and all – enjoying a school dance. The girls didn’t know it then, but they’d form a bond that would last decades.

Have you ever considered hosting an international exchange student? Do you have questions about hosting? You have come to the right place! Here are our answers to the most common questions we receive about hosting:

It’s that time of year. The time of year when we have to say “see you later” to our students.
Meet Mizuho from Japan, our Student Ambassador for the month of June.
Meet Maud from the Netherlands, our Student Ambassador for the month of May.
New Year’s resolutions have come and gone, and warmer weather has people antsy to spring into action. Why not add serving others to that bucket list? Giving back matters. Here at EF, we have our annual  EF Service Day

Service learning is an excellent way for teens to carve out their role in society, and how their time and talents can impact the world around them. Whether the service is to complete service hours for school or scouting, or from purely wanting to do good in the community, here are a few ideas for teens (or anyone!) to explore:

  1. Donate children’s books to a local food pantry
    Most people think of donating canned goods or money to their local food pantries, but did you know that many accept gently used children’s books as well? When families come for their food, the kids can go home with book. A simple message inside, such as “A gift for you! Love, Emma from Sweden,” adds a personal touch.

  2. Send mail to deployed troops
    A handwritten note or care package means the world to those stationed overseas away from their families. Check out Support Our Troops and A Million Thanks for ideas of who to send to and what to send.

  1. Remember your furry friends
    Contact your local animal shelter for ideas of how you can be involved – they often welcome volunteer help to walk animals, organize the office, or collect supplies.

  1. Visit a nursing home 
    Play cards, enjoy a snack, or simply swap stories with nursing home residents who may not have the opportunity to interact much with teens.

  1. Bring treats to school staff
    Get a group together and bake or assemble treats for the people who work with your community’s young people each day. Drop them off in the staff workroom or lounge with a thank you note.

  2. Spruce up your community
    What outdoor area is special in your community? Organize a clean-up event for a park, river, or public space that needs attention, or add beauty or function to that area by planting trees, flowers, or building a community garden. Need some ideas? Check this out!

  3. Share your talents with kids
    Kids are natural sponges, and love to learn interactively. Schedule an art session, cultural workshop, or instrument lesson that showcases your talents while helping them learn and have fun! Added bonus if what you’re doing then is used to help others in some way (for example, creating a knitting project that’s given to the homeless, or creating a collection of soothing music for hospital patients).

Looking for another idea that more closely matches other talents and time frames? Check out DoSomething.org for ideas on projects to explore or organize.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Did you know bringing the world into your home can help get your own son or daughter interested in giving back? Hosting an exchange student is a great way to introduce new dynamics to your home!

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