Hosting an Exchange Student Brings Numerous Benefits to Families

Explore the key findings of our new, global research report, “Global Families, Global Impact: The Experience of Host Families in International Youth Exchange”, which focused on the impact of hosting on families.
Host family

Hosting Transforms Lives through Cultural Exchange and New Family Bonds

The survey revealed that host families consider the primary benefits of hosting to be cultural learning and exchange (76%), cultural sharing (60%), and the expansion of the family (58%).

Host family 1

Host Siblings Thrive with Enhanced Socio-Emotional Learning as a Result of Hosting an Exchange Student

Host siblings gain significantly from the hosting experience, with 62% of respondents noting increased curiosity and opportunity to learn about different cultures and languages. Additionally, 59% reported forming lifelong bonds, and many host siblings developed essential social-emotional skills such as communication (48%).

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Hosting Fosters Global Citizenship and Personal Growth in All Family Members

Host families reported improved adaptability, open-mindedness, valuing differences, and empathy. These improvements align with AFS’s educational framework and highlight the transformative potential of the hosting experience.

The Marshall family with their host daughter on Rangitoto Island

Continued Engagement with AFS Maximizes Benefits of Hosting for Families

Families who remain engaged with AFS after their initial hosting experience report higher levels of personal growth and development. Continued involvement with AFS, whether through volunteering or hosting multiple times, enhances the long-term benefits of the hosting experience.

“Being a host family was a positive experience that is maintained and developed over time. The ties created have been maintained with the family of origin of the Australian student who shared our life for a year. We have visited them in Australia and they visited us in Chile in 2019.”


Why This Study Matters

The “Global Families, Global Impact” report by AFS Intercultural Programs explores the experiences of host families involved in international youth exchanges. With 75+ years of expertise in homestay exchange programs, AFS has documented numerous stories from host families who integrate exchange students into their lives, fostering mutual learning and growth. Annually, AFS has about 8,000 students and families participating in exchange programs, having reached nearly 500,000 families in more than 60 countries worldwide to date. Through a large-scale global survey targeted at some of these former AFS host families, this study aims to understand the impact of hosting on families, contributing to the limited existing research focused on host families.

The global AFS host family survey was conducted from April to December 2023, collecting responses from over 3,000 families worldwide who hosted AFS exchange students. The online survey, offered in 12 languages, included 34 questions covering demographics, hosting experiences, connections with host students post-exchange, and continued engagement with AFS. The survey achieved a robust response rate, with significant participation from countries with substantial AFS activities.

This study’s findings and recommendations are relevant to AFS and other organizations working with host families. Host families play a crucial role in fostering active global citizenship, both for exchange students and themselves. Through their participation in international youth exchange experiences that provide them with the necessary resources and support, host families can have more impactful experiences and be further equipped to contribute to a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.

“I was able to come into contact with diverse cultures from diverse countries, experience them firsthand, and think more deeply about what it means to understand and accept diversity. It also made me think about the cultural differences and conflicts that exist even within Japan.”


How to Become an AFS Host Family

🤗 Learn More and Apply

Connect with us and learn why Host Families are so important to AFS programmes. Our application process is thorough so we can make the best match for your family.

Get started!

🗺️ Find Your Global Match

AFS selects and matches the students with the best families for the experience, but you make the final call. AFS will share a basic profile of the student so you can make a decision.

🫂 Get Ready to Host

Meet the trained volunteers and staff who will support your family and help you learn how to make your AFS experience rewarding and fun.

🏡 Welcome Your AFSer

Experience the #AFSeffect with your new family member by sharing your home, your heart and your world as you take your first steps to becoming global.

“Hosting has been so good for our family. It changes our dynamic in a positive way to have another teenager in the house bringing a different global perspective. It also helps my husband and I as parents remain intentional in the way that we run our household during years that I think a lot of families start to disconnect with busy schedules and independent needs.”