Have you ever wondered why people choose to host an international student? The Jackson family started hosting over 15 years ago, when their eldest daughter was in Prep. We decided to ask them for their story.
When did you start hosting?
We first started hosting when Dana (eldest child) was in Prep. That was about 15 years ago. Over the years we have hosted so many students and each one was a great experience for the family!
Why did you decide to host?
I (Jenni – host mother) was an exchange student when I was in high school, and I wanted other teenagers to have that same experience. It’s a way of giving back to the community. The first time we hosted was through my children’s school and we just kept hosting from then on.
What was one of your best memories of hosting?
One time, my children and the student who we were hosting, put on a show for our extended family. There was singing and dancing, and the student did some traditional games and songs from Japan. It was a real turning point in the relationship we had with that student – he came out of his shell and really started communicating with us
What is something your family has learned from another culture?
For the children, it would have to be Origami – they loved it. During one hosting, a student gave the children an Origami book, and they still pull it out from time to time and enjoy making Origami. We also learned that kids are kids, no matter where they come from.
What kind of activities do you do with your students, and what do they most enjoy?
Every student we host is given the experience of a cookout – BBQ and billy tea. We encourage them to help with the BBQ cooking. For many students it is their first experience of outdoor cooking, and they love it. Apart from that, we like to take them to the beach, or into the city. Students also seem to enjoy visits to the local markets. Look in your local area – there are often special events and free activities for you to enjoy with your student.
What advice do you have for future host families?
Encourage your student to come out of their room and join the family. If they say they have homework, ask them to do it at the dining table – that way you can see what they are learning in class, and help them. It also works as a way to encourage communication. Involve them in games such as Uno. Often students will come out of their room if you ask them to play! Another good way to involve them in family life and have fun.
Would you recommend hosting?
Absolutely! For families with young children in particular – give it a try, your children will love it and international students love spending time with the younger children.