Host an International Student
Host Family Program for International Students
Westminster Schools of Augusta offers a homestay program for all of our international students. This International Student Program (ISP) provides qualified international students who are enrolled at Westminster the opportunity to live with an American host family. This provides wonderful cross-cultural experiences for all involved, and the international student experiences great improvement in learning and using the English language.
Each international student needing a host family will be placed by Westminster with a family that is approved by the school. Most host families are parents of current students, parents of past students or faculty members. The school completes criminal background checks on all host families.
The host family will welcome students into their home as a member of the family. Many of our students and host families create strong relationships that evolve into lasting friendships.
Host family commitments include:
- Meet and pick the student up from the airport
- Provide transportation for the student
- Provide a quiet and clean room
- Provide all meals (when not eating at school)
- Laundry facilities
Meet one of our host families and learn about their experience hosting an international student.
What is the application process for becoming a host family?
a. Interest– Let the international student program coordinator know you are interested in hosting.
b. Application form– You will need to fill out a written application. If you already have this on file, you may not have to do this again.
c. Interview– The international student program coordinator will arrange for an in-home interview and informational session. He/she will view your home and possibly take photos. Everyone who lives in the home should be present.
d. Background check– The school requires a criminal background check on all adult members (over 18-years-old) of your household.
If you are approved as a host family, what are your responsibilities?
Host families provide a “home away from home” for international students. You would need to provide supervision and support as well as housing, meals and transportation. International students and their parents are expected to cover school tuition and fees (including a homestay fee) and personal expenses such as money for recreational activities and trips or times out with friends. All host parents must be Christians who are committed to setting a godly example and investing in the spiritual development of the international student placed in their home.
If we host an international student, will we be paid?
Yes. Host families receive a homestay stipend to cover many of the expenses associated with hosting a student. Host families may incur expenses that are not completely covered by the homestay stipend, so families should be prepared for this possibility. Many families may be able to claim $50 per month on their taxes for hosting an international student.
Will we be able to choose which international student stays with us?
Once you have been initially screened as a host family, the international student program coordinator will give you some information about the students that are available to host. He or she will recommend students that appear to be a good fit with your family, and you can share your preferences. You will always have the option to decline hosting if there are no students you would like to host. Also, the international student program coordinator will have the option not to place a student you desire with you if the coordinator does not think your choice will provide a good fit for the student.
What should we consider as we think about applying to host an international student?
Prayer – What is God saying about the possibility of hosting an international student?
Interest – Are you interested in learning about another culture and country? Are you interested in providing a home to a middle or high school student? Are all the members of your family interested?
Adaptability – Are you willing to adapt to someone living in your home who will be culturally different? Are you willing to learn and grow? Are you willing to help an international student learn by taking time to explain differences?
Logistics – Will you have enough time to invest in another child in your home? Will you be able to provide reasonable transportation for activities? Do you have a place in your home where another child would have space to study and sleep?
Finances – Will your family be able to handle the additional financial expense of adding another person to your household?
Current family situations – Are there situations in your family right now that would make it difficult for you to host well? Examples may include the recent death of a family member, serious health problems or a relational issue.
Will our international student be able to speak English?
Yes. Your student will have enough English ability to have been accepted in the school. Students’ language abilities will vary, but all students should be conversational in English–meaning that they can get by in most conversational settings–but they will not necessarily be fluent. Students will have studied English in school, but may not have ever been immersed in the language or culture. Therefore, host families will need to be patient and give students helpful advice and informal instruction.
When will our international student arrive and leave?
Your student will arrive one to two weeks before the first day of school and depart within 10 days of the last day of school. Once you have been matched with a specific student, the international student program coordinator will let you know that student’s arrival date. We strongly encourage all of our students to return to their country of origin and family over the summer holiday, providing them with opportunity to reconnect with family and giving rest to our host families.
What resources will the International Student Program Coordinator provide for host families?
The international student program coordinator will meet with the student and host family one time each month to informally talk and evaluate how the relationship is going. In addition to that support, the international student program coordinator will supply each host family with a host family handbook, which will help you prepare for your student’s arrival. It will address issues that may arise during the program and give you some practical tips for the whole journey from beginning to end. The international student program coordinator will also give you specific information about your student, and the coordinator will be available throughout the school year to answer questions and help you work through any difficulties that might arise.
To apply to be a host family for an international student, download our application.