Should you host a foreign exchange student?

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of two hands with a map of the world on them on Should you host a foreign exchange student on Not So Mommy...

When I began Not So Mommy…, I had several goals.  One of them was to let others know about hosting a foreign exchange student because it has become such a huge part of my hubby’s and my Plan B.  So, when Nicci Fletcher of “The Childless Not By Choice Magazine” approached me about being a speaker at the “We Are Worthy!” Summit, I immediately knew that I wanted to talk about our hosting experience.

Last week, during the inaugural “We Are Worthy!” Summit, I presented the live webinar, “Redefining Momhood:  From Infertility to Host Mom.”  If you missed it, don’t worry!  It was recorded, and the video is below.

Should you host a foreign exchange student?

To help answer this question, I hope you’ll watch the webinar.  The entire event is a little over 45 minutes.  Beneath the video, I have highlighted the major topics, along with the time when they are discussed.  That way, you can easily find the information you want and need.

Highlights of “Redefining Momhood: From Infertility to Host Mom”

Introduction of Myself (3:00)

I briefly talk about our infertility battle, accepting our childless life, and my difficulty in letting go of my dream of being a mom…

The Cooking Class that Changed My Life (4:51)

Skipping a technology class to attend a cooking class with my hubby led us to hosting…

What is a host mom? (5:50)

Here, I give a brief description about what it means to be a host parent.

How do you become a host mom? (7:28)

This segment discusses the paperwork and in-home visits required to become a host parent.

Choosing a Student (8:17)

My advice about how to choose the right student for your family…

Before the Student Arrives, plus Day 1 of Arrival (10:58)

Some suggestions about how we connected with our kiddo, Bruna, before she arrived, plus what happened the first day she got here.

The Best Advice I Received… (12:13)

Our local coordinator and my mom gave me two wonderful pieces of advice that helped us make a connection and have a smoother transition when Bruna arrived.

Our Hosting Community (14:50)

We were not alone on this hosting journey…

Maintaining Contact with your Exchange Student’s Family (16:45)

I talk about how we used technology to develop relationships with Bruna’s family and to help her not get too homesick.

Our Hosting Experience… (18:45)

Hosting helped me to continue “redefining momhood.”  In this portion, I talk about the “firsts” we got to experience, including school, vacations, activities, and Prom…

Amazing, BUT Not So Perfect… (25:07)

Hosting Bruna was the most amazing six months of our life, BUT it was not perfect.  Here, I talk about disciplining and having difficult conversations…

The Exit Meeting and Saying “See You Later” (28:17)

By the end of Bruna’s stay, we were family.  So, we decided we wouldn’t say “good-bye,” but rather, “see you later…”

After Your Kiddo Returns Home… (30:40)

I talk about how Dane, Bruna, Maddie, & I have kept in touch since she returned to Brazil…

Comment:  Seeing things through a fresh perspective (33:15)

Nicci and I discuss the incredible experience of seeing everyday things through your student’s eyes…

Meeting Our Brazilian Family (35:52)

We spent my 40th birthday in Brazil, and it was incredible…

Question:  Did it take long to adjust to having another person in your home? (39:05)

I answer an attendee’s question, giving suggestions about how to make a smoother transition when your student arrives.

Plan B:  Hosting a Foreign Exchange Kid

As you can see (or better yet, hear), I am passionate about the value of hosting foreign exchange students.  I believe it is a tangible way to embark on a Plan B that allows you to develop a lasting relationship with a kid, while having some of the parental experiences that we all hoped for.

More Information & Resources about Hosting

If you would like to learn more about my hosting experience, read the following:

The Cooking Class that Changed My Life

What a Great Story:  From Infertility to Host Mom

When dreams collide, love explodes:  Our Hosting Experience

Host Family, Just Family:  Redefining Momhood

For a list of resources about foreign exchange programs, read the following:

 Plan B:  Redefine – Host Mom*

If you have any questions about hosting or would like to ask me more about our hosting experience, feel free to contact me here.

*Not So Mommy…™ does not endorse any particular exchange/host programs nor have I been paid to link them on my site.  The provided list of programs are simply suggestions; it is NOT a complete list of all available exchange programs.  Please, do your own research, ask questions, check references, etc. in order to choose the program that will best fit your needs. 

You may also like


Michael October 14, 2018 - 9:37 pm

Thank for sharing this. I wish I could say I had a great experience with hosting a student. But, I did everything wrong to cause my experience to fail. Right now I am
Feeling empty and abandoned. I have such a long story that I could tell. But essentially, my student was just not happy being here in my home. He was also from Brazil (Brasil ?), and had asked the same question about squirrels. When he asked is that a squirrel. I kinda was surprised and was something I learned he just never saw in his country. My experience went pretty much like this. I had picked my student around May and developed a relationship with him over social media, myself with him and his family. I tried to keep that relationship separate when making contact with both of them before he arrived. In hopes that that would just be the best thing. So the time finally arrived on August 9. I remember that day as being so joyous and was looking forward to the next 10 months of this person coming into my home and being the son that I never had. He was very popular at his school he liked to play sports American football was one thing he wanted to be a part of. So before he got here was around the same time they had registration at his high school. So my daughter and I both met with the counselor before he even arrived and we had everything ready for him to just start going to school. But then just four days ago today is October the 14th 2018. My agency walked into my house sat down while I was on the phone with the agency support person and was told that he would be removed from the home and that he had five minutes to pack his bags and leave. I was speechless and could not understand why this person that I had thought would be my son for all the time to come could just walk out on me that way. I felt like my son was being taken by DSS for reasons that I couldn’t understand. I was told I had too hi of emotions and expectations. The feeling that I have this very moment Is so empty and lost. I know should have done the things that you laid out here in this video. And thT everything that you have laid out is exactly what I didn’t do that call caused my time with my Stident to in much sooner than I had expected. He began to go to his room as soon as he came in from school and stay there until he went to bed. He would cook in the kitchen and leave his dishes on the stove and I would always pick up after him. So I sent him an email instead of talking to him like I should have and I believe that had to have started our demise. I will say this everything that you talked about in your video is so true. . Had I done everything that you said You did we may be in a different place at this point. My agency pretty much stepped in because of how much his parents and him had talked about how miserable he was here. And of course that was not my intention . I thought I had done everything the right way. But unexpectedly I have to deal with the sorrow of my journey that I thought I would be taking being cut short. And it hurts so bad. Knowing that my suppose son that I had developed a good relationship with is just a mile down the street with his liaison is the worst feeling. I can’t reach out to him and say I am so sorry. I have done that but it’s gotten to a point where it’s just too late and there’s nothing I can say or do to get him back. Even though ultimately it is his choice. I think that his parents had much to do with the reason why he left. They could only hear him from Brazil and his side of what was going on. I tried everything from playing tennis going to the gym watching football games with him taking him to football games. Go gamecocks. And and none of it was enough. So I guess my comment Is this. if there’s anything that I can say to anyone considering hosting a student. Is to listen to your video because it all is so true. He and I were more like roommates then I was a father to him. And I think he wanted to have that mother father type situation to come to. But I couldn’t give him that. I’m divorced and I have no desire right now to even get into a relationship. But I think about the fact that he knew what he was signing up for and excepted this to be a single parent home. And then he finds out two months into his ten-month stay here that is not what he wanted. He felt like we just did not have a connection. And I have that unconditional kind of love for anything that I do in life and for him just as I do my daughter. And to realize that he doesn’t have that same connection with me is just unbearable. Thank you so much for your video I’m sorry for the run-on‘s and typos but I’m talking using my voice text putting this into words so I hope it doesn’t get boggled all together and not make any sense. I just wanted to share a little bit of my experience although there’s a lot more to the story. I just want to be clear that even though I thought I was doing everything right. My time with my son was unexpectedly cut short and it’s such an empty feeling. Such a long story that I know I sound like I’m rounding rambling. I do apologize for that. Thank you again Charleston South Carolina

Brandi Lytle October 15, 2018 - 9:53 am

Thank you for sharing your story, Michael. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and talk about things that have hurt us, especially when the emotions are so raw.

I am so sorry that your hosting experience did not turn out like you hoped it would. You bring up very valid information… There are no guarantees that the experience will be completely positive nor that your student will make a connection. It is unfortunate when students have to move homes; although, I have heard about this happening before.

I wish I had healing words that I could say… I am truly sorry that you are hurting and truly sorry for your loss of the relationship with your exchange son. Please, don’t be too hard on yourself. I am sure that you were trying to do the best you could to create a loving home for this kiddo. Relationships are complicated, and it is often harder to be away from home than the teenager realizes.

I do hope that if you decide to host again in the future that you have a better experience with a happier ending…


Leave a Comment