This article provides instructions and links to the handouts used in a Student-Host Family Matching Exercise presented at the Great Lakes Volunteers Conference in December 2007 and again at the National Hosting Conference in February 2009.
*All of the "students" and "families" shown below are fictitious.*
How it works
The exercise works best with between 10 and 25 participants (5 groups of 2 to 5 people).
The materials include the first part of the Host Family Application for for five fictitious families and fictitious information about five exchange students. The five student letters are actual student letters (used with permission of the authors) that were modified aggressively for purposes of the exercise.
1. Divide the room into 5 groups. Each group will be an AFS chapter. Each chapter has a different family and their task is to choose which student is the best match for their family. All the chapters have the same five students to look at.
In a room with a wide variety of experience, it is best if you group the relatively inexperienced volunteers together and group the highly experienced volunteers together. A "chapter" with four newbies and one hosting coordinator with 15 years' experience is going to have the hosting co-ordinator do all the thinking and the newbies won't get the benefit of the exercise.
2. No discussion between chapters is permitted while deciding which student is the best fit for their family.
3. The chapters get 20 minutes to look over the family, to look over the students, and to decide which is the best student for “their” family.
When they have picked the student, each chapter then tells who they picked. Chapters who disclose their pick later aren’t allowed to change their pick because their first choice was taken already.
The materials are rigged so that no family is a likely match for a couple of the students and so that most, if not all, of the chapters choose one particular student as the best match for their family. A second student is a close second on most of the families, so it’s not surprising if all the chapters between them pick only those two students.
Right now it is a little unbalanced because some chapters can reject one or two students immediately (pet allergies, family that can host only a girl), but other chapters have to look at all five students to pick the best. This is a realistic situation, but it might be better for pedagogical reasons to re-do the exercise so that all five chapters can reject two students immediately and have to look at 3 students carefully.
Also attached is the Workshop Handout. Please note that some of this information is now outdated.