You Can Become a Diplomat--No Passport Required!

Hey there, curious minds! Have you ever wondered how you, yes YOU, can play a role in international diplomacy without leaving the comfort of your own home? Well, buckle up because today, we're exploring a fantastic way to foster global diplomacy right from your living room – by hosting a high school exchange student!

Did you know that the United States government considers youth exchange to be an important part of their public diplomacy efforts?  Yes indeed!


BridgeUSA programs allow you to experience first-hand the richness and diversity of a culture different from your own, as you exemplify American values and culture to an exchange student. Through this program, you will join thousands of American families who serve as citizen ambassadors of the United States. Many families have found hosting an exchange student to be a rewarding and memorable experience.

High School exchange programs have been a part of U.S. public diplomacy efforts since 1949.  Approximately 20,000 exchange students from around the world participate in this program each year. The good will of American host families in opening their homes to these young international visitors is vital to this program’s success. The exchange student is a guest in your home and in our country and you may be the first Americans this young person meets. Your hospitality will create a lasting impression of our country and its people.

U.S. Department of State

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Private Sector Exchange



Now, you might be thinking, "Wait a minute, how does having a student from another country in my home help with global diplomacy?" It's a brilliant question, and I'm here to break it down for you in everyday language. So, let's get started!


Bridging Cultures and Breaking Stereotypes

Picture this: you've got a cool exchange student from, say, Japan living with your family in Iowa. You'll be introducing them to the world of American football, corn mazes, and family barbeques. At the same time, they'll be sharing stories of Tokyo's bustling city life, sushi delicacies, and the art of origami. See what's happening here? By living together and sharing experiences, you both get to learn about each other's culture firsthand, and that, my friend, is the beginning of bridging cultures and breaking down stereotypes.

mother and daughter visiting over snack


Language Lessons and Laughs

When your exchange student arrives, get ready for a fun language exchange! They might teach you quirky phrases in their native tongue, and you can show them the ropes of English colloquialisms (yep, we have some strange ones!). But language isn't just about vocabulary; it's about understanding each other on a deeper level. Sharing laughs, struggles, and heartwarming moments in a new language fosters a sense of connection that goes beyond borders.

flashcard with "apple" in English and Japanese


A Peek into International Affairs

You might be wondering how a high school student can be a diplomat. Well, think about it – your exchange student is like an unofficial ambassador of their home country. When they talk about their country's traditions, values, and societal norms, you get an insider's perspective on the world stage. You'll be amazed at how much you'll learn about international affairs and how these experiences can shape your own views.

teen girl holding small German flag


Nurturing Empathy and Understanding

We live in a vast and diverse world with different beliefs and perspectives. Hosting an exchange student encourages empathy and understanding by putting you in their shoes, even for a short time. You'll find yourself more open-minded, appreciative of diversity, and eager to embrace new ideas – all essential qualities for fostering global diplomacy.

mom and child cooking with exchange student


Strengthening International Bonds

Diplomacy is all about building strong relationships with other countries, and hosting a high school exchange student does just that! The connections formed between your family and your student's family, as well as with their school and community back home, create valuable international bonds. These relationships can have a ripple effect, promoting goodwill and fostering mutual understanding on a larger scale.

7 people sharing a dish with chop sticks


Seeds of Peace and Harmony

Imagine if every home around the world hosted an exchange student – the impact would be enormous! By participating in this global exchange, you're contributing to a world that values peace and harmony. Each positive experience shared among host families and students plants seeds of unity, promoting a world where cooperation and friendship overcome differences.

group of diverse teens taking a selfie


Hosting a high school exchange student is more than just providing them a place to stay; it's an incredible opportunity for global diplomacy. You're building bridges of understanding, creating lasting international bonds, and nurturing a generation of empathetic, open-minded citizens. And did I mention that it's also loads of fun?

Right now, we have students from around the world arriving daily to start their exchange experience.  But it's not too late for you to to participate, as we are still searching for host families for our remaining students.

Would you consider welcoming a student for a few weeks, a few months, or a full school year?  This is an opportunity to make a powerful impact on your family--and on the world!  

Let's open our hearts, welcome the world into our homes, and be the change we want to see in the world. Happy hosting, fellow global diplomats! 


Learn more about hosting an exchange student!


This blog post was composed with the assistance of ChatGPT

Tags: Cultural Exchange, Host an exchange student, Citizen Diplomacy

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