Before your exchange son’s or daughter’s arrival
5 things you can do to prepare your family and home for your exchange son’s or daughter’s arrival
1. Get in touch with your exchange son or daughter
The exchange organization will provide you with the student’s contact information. Send a welcoming message before the student’s arrival to show your excitement to welcome your exchange son or daughter in your family. This contact will also decrease the anxiety for the student and natural parents, since leaving your home country, friends and family behind and travel to the “unknown” is not easy for any teenager. The natural parents will feel more secure when they know their child is going to a welcoming home.
2. Learn about your exchange son or daughter
The exchange organization will also provide you personal information about the student. Make sure to remember the student’s birthday and special food allergies (if any) or dietary restrictions (based on religion). The student’s hobbies and passions are nice topics for initial conversations.
3. Prepare a bedroom for your exchange son or daughter
Your exchange son or daughter can share a bedroom (with his or her own bed) with one of your children. If you have the space it would be nice to give your exchange son or daughter a room of his or her own.
Set up a study space - Part of most exchange programs is participation in a local high school or college. Set up a quite place where your exchange son or daughter can study. This could be in his or her bedroom or somewhere else in your home.
4. Give your exchange son or daughter access to contact home
Students may feel homesick, especially at first. Giving them ways to contact their family and friends back home will help them feel connected to their loved ones. This will make it easier for them to adjust to their new home with you.
5. Attend a preparation seminar
Quality exchange organizations will invite host parents to join a seminar to prepare them for hosting. This is your chance to meet the organization’s staff and volunteers face to face, meet and connect with other (experienced) host families, ask questions and discuss strategies to ensure that every member of your family gets the most out of the hosting experience. It will be great to see that you are not the only one with questions, and your insecurities are shared by others. However, you will be assured that the exchange organization is with you every step of the way during the hosting experience to guide, help and support you in this great journey to gain a more global perspective and appreciation for other cultures and customs.