Hosting an international student may not be an easy decision. There are many questions to be asked. It is adding an extra member to the family, after all! We were able to sit down with Kim Gregory who has been hosting students with GPHomestay for about 2 years now and ask her all of the difficult questions. Check out her story!
Kim Gregory and her family decided to start hosting students in 2014 when a girl was in need of a home to stay in with very short notice. Their first student stayed for 1 semester and then moved to another home. They decided to take a break from hosting and shortly after were asked to host twin girls for a few weeks while their original host family was going to be out of town. Now, Anna and Rebekah have been with the Gregorys for 2 years.
Difficulties of Hosting an International Student
Hosting an international student does have its difficulties. First, there’s the language barrier- many students know English but aren’t great at speaking it yet. Then, when the students arrive in the US the host family has to help with getting school supplies, uniforms, and other necessities. This can be difficult because the students are spending their own money and it can be hard to tell them they have to buy an iPad or different notebook for each class, etc. One other thing to overcome is meal time: different tastes in food as well as the timing of meals. Kim’s family got her girls a rice cooker so they can adapt many of the family meals to their liking by adding in rice or other things.
Advantages of Hosting an International Student
There are a lot of really great things that happen when you host a student as well. You have the opportunity for your family to learn more about another culture. You can experience their customs and learn about how life works. Maybe one of the best things is that you get to help a child receive a better education. In Anna & Rebekah’s case, if they were in school in China, they would not be allowed to speak during class (that means no questions) and they would only be able to get a degree in the job that they “tested” in to. Meaning- if you want to be an engineer, you can only do that if your aptitude test allows it. When an international student comes to the US, they are often here to better their English during high school and start to adapt to our country. Then, they stay for college and are able to get a degree of their choosing.
Translating all day can be exhausting for the girls. So, after school, you may find them in their room taking a break. (Aren’t all teenagers in their room after school? :) ) Just like many students, they need help with their homework and are blessed with a host mom who is also a teacher and eager to help. Anna and Rebekah participate in chorus after school. They have friends and enjoy going out with them after school and on the weekends to shop or see a movie. They are your typical teenagers. Kim also has a teenage daughter in the house which helps Anna and Rebekah get out and experience more things.
Hosting an international student can be equally rewarding for your family as it is for them. Kim commented that her daughter, Rachel, felt that having extra people in the house encourages the entire family to spend more time together. Kim spoke about Anna and Rebekah honoring her on Mother’s Day and bringing back gifts for the whole family after their summer break. They have become a part of the family. They will even be celebrating the holidays together this year. Kim’s biggest tip was that if you are going to take on an international student, you need to be able to understand teenagers. While they definitely love having younger siblings in the house, rules and the way you deal with teenagers is different than the way you may handle situations with your younger child. Be ready to adapt and be understanding.
**GPHomestay is currently looking for host parents for students at Pope John Paul II. Contact them now to help out**
If you’re interested in finding out more information about hosting an international student, check out GPHomestay!