The American Homestay Network (AHN) is looking for Magnolia-area families to serve as “homestay” hosts for an upcoming tour of Chinese and Japanese students coming to Seattle during January and February for 3-5 weeks to attend programs at Seattle Pacific University. These students will be studying English and learning about American culture, while living with American families and experiencing “American life” firsthand via homestay.
Magnolia resident, and AHN host Tessa Cook has participated in AHN homestay programs in the past and shared some of her experiences with Magnolia Voice:
MV: What is your background in homestay?
TC: 13 years-during which I’ve hosted about 15 students from places including Japan, South Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and most recently Thailand with our student Jinjuta.
MV: How do you make international students feel welcome in your home?
TC: I will take them for a picnic in Discovery Park… or bake some corn muffins so the house is warm and welcoming. Sometimes I will take them for a bike ride to the Ballard Locks and look at the salmon ladder. Of course most of my students want to go to Starbucks so I will take them there on the first day too.
MV: What are some of your best memories or funny stories about hosting?
TC: One favorite memory I have is when we had two South Koreans staying with us and we invited my daughter’s friends and their families over and the girls (around 10 of them in total) had the best time together – spelling out words with their bodies (sounds weird but – oh the laughter!) Another funny memory…is when we went to the park and my daughter accidentally stood in a wasps nest and our student Kayo was a protective big sister chasing the wasps away and batting them with her handbag.
MV: What has surprised you the most about being a host?
TC: How attached I have gotten to my students, and the really good feeling I have when I see them attaining independence and autonomy (with a little help from me). I started out doing this with one daughter – and now have two more daughters and many, many friends. Also, it is so life enhancing to learn the nuances of a culture that you would not know until you live with someone day by day. It is a good feeling when you are cued in to the culture as well – e.g I had a student (probably Kayo – my first student) who asked me for a hair gom? I found out that a hair gom is a hair elastic – then when I had my later students ask me for a hair gom I recognized immediately what they were asking.
MV: How do you plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays with your family and students?
TC: Last year for Christmas Yoshiko was staying with me – and we went over to my friends who are from Iraq for a beautiful lunch. We had Yoshiko (Japanese) and me (New Zealand), Iraqi (both Christian and Muslim), and also Iranian people. That was a really amazing gathering!
MV: Tell us about a special outing, meal, or other experience with your international student that has made a strong impression on you and your family.
TC: I had a student from Japan – Ayuka – and she was very young – probably only sixteen years old. I cooked many Japanese dishes for her and her mother was so grateful that she Fed-Ex’d me a parcel filled with about six different types of Japanese ingredients and a Japanese cookbook. I was super excited!
More details about the American Homestay Networks programs:
- AHN host families will receive between $375-$500 per student to provide a shared room (two students) or a private room (one student) and meals (self-serve breakfast and lunch, and a prepared dinner with your family) for the students.
- Host families must be within 45 minutes by public transportation to SPU’s campus.
- AHN’s professional approach to homestay makes hosting easy for local families, providing student/host matching technology, pre-arrival online training for students and hosts, 24×7 professionally managed support line, and local representatives to address any on-site host or students needs.
- AHN also has longer hosting opportunities (which pay $660-$775 per month) with students from many different countries, so this can be a test run for any families looking for a unique cultural experience. More information about what it takes to be a host and how to apply can be found at homestayhosting.com, or call 888-268-1903.
Thanks to Jaime for your help with this post!