One of the most important missions of ICES is finding a safe, nurturing host family for each student that comes on program. Like our students, our host families come in all varieties, and it’s important to find the right student for each unique host family. We at ICES are here to guide and assist you in this process.
Choosing a student that is a good fit for your family will result in a more enjoyable experience for both you and your student. Your Local Coordinator can provide you with student profiles that include general information and a letter from the student. As you read through student profiles, consider the student’s culture and interests as you look for a good match.
Here are some things to consider:
Sharing a common interest is a great way for a host family and student to bond. Have a boy who is passionate about soccer? A soccer-loving family is likely the best fit for him. A girl who loves horseback riding will probably do best in a family who shares that passion.
Be careful not to overestimate a student’s interest level. Just because a student makes a passing mention of swimming in her or his letter does not make them an avid swimmer. Some students don’t have stand-out interests, but instead have a wide range of current and former hobbies of various levels of interest and will fit with many types of families.
Students who share a strong faith will usually do best when placed with a like-minded host family. A student who is very active in church and holds very conservative values may struggle living with a liberal family. Similarly, a very liberal student may feel uncomfortable living with a religious family.
We make our choices and spend our time largely based on what is most important to us. So, try to find a student with your family shared values to some degree.
A family-oriented student is more likely to thrive in a family that also enjoys spending lots of time together, while a highly independent student may struggle with that.
A student who is academically-focused will be a delight for a family that also places a high value on learning and grades and finds extra-curricular activities to take a backseat role.
Some students—and host families—are active, energetic, and love to be on-the-go.
Others relish being at home. This is something to consider as you start to review student applications, as students and host families alike will usually be happiest if a good match is made in this area.
- Communication Style
As you start to hone in on certain students, consider your family's style of communication. Some families communicate in a very direct manner, speaking their mind boldly and without much filter. Other families utilize a more indirect communication method, relying more on body language and inference.
Likewise, the cultures of our students have general norms of communication. For example, the French, Scandinavian, and German students generally communicate in a very direct way and may at times come across as rude to Americans with a more passive communication style when they first arrive. On the other hand, Thailand is the “land of the smile”, and people generally do not express negative emotions or feelings, especially in public. Consider which nationalities might be the best fit for the communication style of your family.
- Family Make-up
Host families come in all shapes and sizes including single and married, with and without kids, young and old.
If your family has young children, your best bet will probably be to find a student with young siblings, or one who likes kids and has experience with them.
Single people who live alone can make wonderful host parents, but they probably are not the best fit for a student who thrives on being part of a large extended family.
It’s not always possible to find a student that is a perfect choice for your family, although students who come on our program are expected to adapt. However, putting effort into searching for a good choice from the beginning for your family will produce a happier student and family experience.
At ICES our field staff of Local Coordinators are always available to help and guide you through this process to find your perfect choice.