In homestay programs, participants ranging in age from 15 to 30 live with American host families as family members. expect to be involved in daily family activities and household chores. A home stay is a cultural exchange in which a person visiting or temporarily staying in another country lives with a family in the host country. Home stays involve relationships between people and should not be confused with a boarding-house or hotel experience in which a person only rents a room. While participants may be involved in recreational activities organized by their host family or their Exchange Program Coordinator, we stress that a homestay is not just to provide a place to stay but an opportunity to create an enriching learning experience for both the student and the host family. Home stays can range from a night or week-end to four or more weeks. The most important aspect of all home stays is the cross-cultural family relationship. These foreign ambassadors want to share their culture and traditions while living in a typical American family.
The main goals of homestays are language improvement/acquisition and cultural exchange. Our homestay programs are not a tourism service, and participants must understand that activities will not be provided on a daily basis. American families may not be extensively involved in extracurricular activities outside work and school during the week, and weekends are the time that host families will engage in those kinds of activities. Of course, an adult family member is home during week days. Often, the Exchange Program Coordinator (EPC) organizes one full-day activity during the week, such as a visit to a theme park (e.g., Disneyland, Universal Studios), movies, shopping etc. While these activities are not guaranteed, most EPCs are sensitive to the participant’s desires to do some sightseeing. Participants will be responsible for any entry fees and other expenses for any activity in which they choose to participate.
Most homestays are not located in large cities, but rather in suburban areas, usually within an hour or two from large cities, or in mid-size towns. Some communities where ERDT enVision places its home stay participants do not have any or extensive public transportation, so sightseeing and even shopping might be limited to reliance on the willingness of the host family to drive a participant to such activities.