Hosting an international high school exchange student not only changes a student's life in a meaningful and lasting way, but also has a great impact on the host family, school, and community. About 1,700 high school students representing nearly 60 countries are awarded highly competitive, merit-based U.S. Department of State scholarships to study in the United States each academic year on the, , and programs. These promising young leaders live with volunteer host families across the country, attend high school, participate in extracurricular and community service activities, and give back to their host communities. Each year, these students contribute over 133,000 community service hours and bring International Education Week to life with presentations about their home countries and cultures in their host communities. A host mom says it best: “Sutan [student from Indonesia] has helped us to see things through new eyes when we took him on our family trips…the snow, a hockey game, and many other adventures. He has become a part of our family, and we are honored to have him in our home.” While these exchange students arrive as strangers, they leave as family.
Watch the video below to see the impact Oumou, a YES student from Mali, made during her exchange year and what her host family, friends, and school had to say about welcoming her to their community.
While on their exchange, CBYX, FLEX, and YES students develop leadership and public speaking skills, learn about citizen engagement through volunteerism, and gain international and intercultural awareness that prepares them to lead in their home communities and in the world.
The benefits of hosting an exchange student go beyond simply welcoming someone new into your family's life and sharing American culture, values, and traditions -- when you host a CBYX, FLEX, or YES student, you welcome a new culture, a new language, and new perspectives, which enrich your home, classrooms, and communities.