When Hosting an Exchange Student Doesn't Work Out...

You signed up to host a student, but what if it’s not working out? Or what if your life changes and hosting is no longer practical or possible?

Every year some students need to change host families. In many cases, it’s no one’s fault – or at least no one person’s fault. It’s just life. Fortunately, there is a procedure for moving students when necessary. Let’s see what you can expect if your student needs to move.

Time Frames

calendar and clock with blue background

How long does it take to move a student from one host family to a new one? Matching a student with a family takes time. Rematching also takes time. The Host Family Agreement gives ICES two weeks to find and vet a new host family.

Relocation Location

map of the usa with a red thumbtack in the middle

Most student moves take place within the same community. In most cases, every effort is made to keep a student at the same school. In rare cases a student is moved to a different community or even to a different state.


woman looking up at two speech bubbles

The Local Coordinator continues to be the go-to person for both the student and the host family while the new host family and move are being organized. Don't hesitate to check in with updates or questions.


teenager packing suitcase

While your student waits for moving day, you might be able help with some last-minute details and decision-making. Are there any loose ends that need to be tied up? Is it time to start packing? Keeping your student on track will facilitate a smooth move.

Living Together

seven fists coming together in a circle

If a move is due to irreconcilable differences of one kind or another, lay down clear ground rules for these last days together. This is a good activity to do together with your Local Coordinator. If appropriate, a written agreement can serve as a road map to guide everyone through this process.

Saying Goodbye

teen girl hugging two small children

How can you end on a positive note? Every challenge is an opportunity. When a student moves, everyone will benefit from seeing this as a chance to figure out how to end on a positive note. It helps to put this topic on the table, talk about it and brainstorm ways to make it happen – together.

Discretion and Privacy

teen boy with finger over mouth to say be quiet

Whenever a move is due to a disagreement, lack of chemistry, personality differences or personal reasons that any party wishes to keep private, both student and host family are asked to respect each other’s privacy. This is another important topic to discuss together.

Hosting Again?

couple scratching their heads as they think

Is it worth it to try again? Maybe you should ask the Browns. Their first experience was a fiasco, but they decided to try “Hosting After a Storm”. How did it go? Read their story to find out.

Personally, my first experience hosting an exchange student was not easy. At the end of one very long academic year, we didn’t think we would ever do that again.

Fortunately, we changed our minds! Prang, our next student, fit right into our family – along with the many stories, legends, video clips, fun facts and cultural artefacts she brought with her from Thailand. It was the best cultural exchange ever.

If you are facing a student move, rest assured that it can be a normal part of the exchange experience. This is all about bringing together diverse human beings. And humans are, well…human. While some exchanges will fizzle or fail, most will be positively brilliant for everyone involved.











Tags: Host Families, Youth Exchange

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