Arrival of Dortmund’s students in Buffalo © Greg Engle

Since the group is going to travel a lot and has a rather tight schedule, you do not have to worry about entertaining the kids 24/7 for two weeks. Nonetheless, there will always be some days reserved for free time with the host family. Whether you introduce your host student to your family and friends, plan a trip to a city nearby on your own or just spend time getting to know one another is completely up to you! Please be aware that you will have to take care of another child for two weeks. Just as with your own children, there might be difficult situations or problems. As long as you treat your host child the same way you treat your own daughter or son or their friends, there should be no great problems which you cannot overcome with conversation.

What is expected of a host family?

As a host family of one of our students you are asked to provide your student with

  • The opportunity to participate in your family’s daily lives
  • The same care as you would a member of your own family
  • A bed
  • Three quality meals a day

The host family is the first contact point for the host child and therefore an important attachment figure. You should be prepared to provide the host child with support, guidance and love. This might sound like work and nerves, but you will have the opportunity to get to know German traditions and customs as well. While the host child makes the world seem a little smaller by bringing cultures together, the child will also make your own world bigger.

Summer exchange group of 2016 © Lynn Engle

The language barrier has proven to not be an issue of concern. Your student speaks and understands English. Although it can take some time for both you and the German student to get used to the accent, you will definitely be able to communicate. Don’t hesitate to correct them. After all, they will be in the US to improve their knowledge of the English language.

Furthermore, you do not need to worry about the financial aspect. The kids are prepared and have a credit card with them. The same way you would not send your children to Europe without cash neither do their parents. They pay for their shopping and snacks. Moreover, the students are covered with secondary medical and travel insurance so that in an emergency, the student can be treated as soon as possible.

White water rafting in Letchworth State Park © Greg Engle

If you think that this sounds like work, time and money to invest, you are right. But you will also have a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to make friends with children from another culture. Many friendships last a lifetime as Greg Engle and his German host family Herlinghaus prove. Nowadays keeping in touch and nurturing a friendship across an ocean is even easier with facebook, whatsapp and co.