While possessing these qualities, skills, or attitudes alone will not ensure a successful hosting experience, a family who does embody them is much more likely to experience a positive intercultural exchange.
- An open mind and ability to communicate effectively
- Honesty, flexibility, and transparency in family dynamics
- A sense of humor, curiosity, warmth, and expression of feeling among family members
- Evidence of family unity. Hosting a student is challenging and a strong family is better equipped to deal with the difficult moments
- Family makes an effort to "put on their best face." If not, one might question how much effort they will put into the hosting experience
- Willingness to make this a true mutual intercultural exchange
- A strong desire to make the participant a member of the family
Some indicators that a family may not be suitable to host at this time:
- Division between the family members about whether to host or not
- One or more family members absent from the interview
- One family member does all of the talking during the interview
- Inability to spend enough time with a host participant due to work schedule or other commitments
- A family who is not social or involved in the community
- Unrealistic expectations of what hosting an exchange participant means. For example, best friend, language tutor, baby-sitter for child, or companion for elderly family member
- Very specific requests and expectations about the participant that they would like to host i.e. "A 17 year old Swedish girl who has younger siblings, excels academically, likes horseback riding and cooking."
- Inappropriate comments made during the host family interview. For example, views that demonstrate intolerance towards a specific race, culture, or religion
- Family is unable to provide own bed for participant
- The home is unsafe or unsanitary
- Evidence of substantial rigidity and/or lack of a sense of humor among family members
- An unsuccessful hosting experience with another exchange organization or with AFS in the past
- Refusal to conduct criminal background check or comply with any Department of State requirements
If you have concerns about the suitability of the family to host, please indicate that on the interview form and talk with the Team Hosting Coordinator or RFS (Regional Field Specialist). Some of the factors above will also better help you match the family with an appropriate student to host. For example, a quiet family who likes to spend time at home might not be the best match for an outgoing, independent, social student.