During the course of the exchange, Host Families and Participants can be expected to go through a cycle of adjustment. Though each person's experience is unique, it is important, as a liaison, to predict what the participant and his/her host family may be going through at certain times. These are the topics that should be addressed during the monthly contact sessions.
The following resource is designed to guide liaisons through their monthly check-ins with participants and host families by providing an outline of questions to ask and topics to discuss at certain points throughout the exchange.
How the Guides are Organized
The guides are organized by month. Each month has its own wiki page (see the links below). "Month 1" contains questions to guide your conversation with the family and participant during the first month of the exchange. Each link also identifies which calendar month corresponds to "Month 1", "Month 2" etc, depending on whether your student arrives in the NH cycle (August arrival), or the SH cycle (January arrival).
Month 12, the months of July for NH students and December for SH students are not student program months and therefore do not have topics/questions associated with students, but there are suggested topics for following up with the host families after student departure.
Seasonal Events and Holidays
Participants typically experience very strong feelings of homesickness during the times of year containing particularly important holidays, events or birthdays. These special events can occur at many different times of year and should be addressed as they occur. For this reason, they are listed separately from the monthly topics. Be sure to ask your student when their birthdays/special celebrations take place.
There is one guide per month corresponding to a year-long exchange program. However, if a student is on a semester program, use two guides at a time. For example, address "Month 1" and "Month 2" at the first visit, "Month 3" and "Month 4" during the second Monthly Contact, and so on.
Semester student will still experience a complete adjustment cycle, so it is important to guide them through fully because they will experience stages more rapidly than their year-program peers and will have less time to process their feelings. Likewise, families have less time to create bonds with semester students.
After each question in each guide you will see that there are letters in parentheses. These correspond to the AFS Orientation Topics addressed by each question. The AFS Orientation Topics are set forth by the AFS Orientation Framework and are topics that are important to a successful exchange. The following key is placed on each page:
- A&U = AFS and You
- PSW = Personal Safety and Well-being
- CL = Culture Learning
- CA = Cultural Adjustment
- G&E = Goals and Expectations
- RL = Required Logistics
It is not necessary to ask every question in the guide, but be sure to ask at least one questions from each orientation topic.