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This week, we've shared some amazing, heartwarming stories about host families as a part of Host Family Appreciation Week. 

Now, it's our turn to share our stories! Our staff have been exchange students, and have hosted students themselves, and we think  you'll find they say the same things: their hosting experiences have made an indelible mark on their lives. 

Here are a few of their stories:


"My last and most recent experience with a host family was on a small rural island of Fiji in the south pacific. I lived with a family in a very small one room home with no electricity or running water and they were amazing—just an older lady and her granddaughter. They were extremely welcoming and although they had very little to share, they shared it with me and really made me a part of their family—taking me everywhere with them, involving me with food preparation, bringing me to family events and everything."
— Miranda Rodway, Support Coordinator

"Living in another family is not all roses and sunshine—it can be time-consuming to establish connection and communicate effectively. But it is worth all the hard work and effort and homesickness.  I would not be who I am today without the wonderful families who have hosted me throughout the years, including my biological family, who encouraged me to travel and explore this wonderful world."
— Kate Sears, J1 Account Specialist, International Operations

Kate pfohl

"I don’t think we would have hosted exchange students if my brother had not been a participant on the CBYX outbound program. After he returned, there was a German exchange student at the high school who needed a new host family since his current one was going through a divorce. The English teacher recommended that my family might be interested and we took him for the rest of the year after Thanksgiving. He was the first of 8 students from 7 countries! I was only in Kindergarten when we took our first student and my parents hosted the last when I was a sophomore in college, so having an exchange student in the house is part of the fabric of my being. I grew up thinking that having foreign siblings was totally normal and I think it’s really helped shape who I am and my interests today. ! I am regularly in touch with two of them and was even in one of their weddings as maid of honor (in the Netherlands)."
— Katie Pfohl, Senior Coordinator, Grants

"I stayed with a Japanese family as a junior in college for one academic year. They were my perfect match. I was very grateful to the organization for matching us. My Host Mom truly became a second mom to me, discussing my every day at the dinner and taking me out for cultural excursions. She was a teacher of poetry, and we connected over our mutual love of literature. I was their 15th international student. I hope to visit them someday in Japan."
— Elena Kirillova, Compliance Coordinator

Camden Crosby

"The best part about staying in a host family was that moment when I actually felt like part of the family. Learning that if you work hard enough at a relationship, you can establish another home and another family was a very valuable lesson for me. And it’s as a result of these kind, generous, amazing people’s actions that I chose to work at CIEE in order to give others the opportunity to experience that incredible connection."
— Camden Crosby, Support Coordinator

Thank you to our wonderful host families, for all that you do. You continue to inspire us! 


It surprised me how open our small community is to foreign students

For Host Family Appreciation Week, we reached out to our Local Coordinators and asked them what host families mean to them, and why host families make such a difference in their communities. Here’s what Michael Friday, from Oklahoma had to say:

Michael Friday with Students

How long have you been a Local Coordinator?

I have been an LC for 2 years

How do you recruit your host families?

I share my personal hosting experiences in my day to day contact with people.

What do you like most about working with our host families?

Giving students an opportunity to experience life in America and especially Oklahoma.

What do you appreciate most about our host families?

People opening up their homes to perfect strangers hoping to make the world a little better place onE young person at a time.

How has working as an LC/working with HFs changed your community or your views on the world? 

It surprised me how open our small community is to these foreign students.  Despite the conflicts around the world, people welcoming these ambassadors of their country. We have an only child from South Korea that is a double placement with a lad from Germany. It has been so cool to see the bond develop between these boys. The Korean boy now knows what it's like to have a brother!

Anything else you would like to share? 
I believe I will be remembered not for the 30 years of my career with the Federal Government, but rather with the kids around the world that I have hosted or played a part of their exchange program.

Thank you Michael for sharing your story! 

Learn what it takes to be a Local Coordinator.

Not interested in being an LC? Refer someone who would be great, and earn $100.

Host parents are the true heroes of the story

For Host Family Appreciation Week, we reached out to our Local Coordinators and asked them what host families mean to them, and why host families make such a difference in their communities. Here’s what Susan Greenhorn, from Iowa had to say:

Susans students

How long have you been a Local Coordinator?

4 years next month!

How do you recruit your host families?
Last year, all but 2 of my families were through Facebook. This year it has been repeat or word of mouth.

What do you like most about working with our host families?

I love just visiting with them and learning about their interests, hobbies and simply laughing with them!

What do you appreciate most about our host families?

They try so hard to provide the best experience for my kids. In the process, they allow themselves to learn as well.

How has working as an LC/working with HFs changed your community or your views on the world? 
I view world issues with a different mindset. Host parents are the true heroes in the story. Yes, the kids travel thousands of miles away from everything they know but the host parents are inviting a complete stranger to come live in their home. They provide meals for kids that they don't even know what they like or dislike. They provide a room to someone whom they don't know their decorating style. They provide transportation to practices, games, events concerts and everything else that the kids get involved with. They rearrange vacation schedules, work schedules, family outings in order to be able to include the student. They take the time to sit down and learn about another country very far away. I am in awe of our host families! We need more people in the world like our CIEE host families!

Anything else you would like to share? 

We have been a host family for 7 years. This year we are hosting our 16th and 17th student. No two students are alike even if they share the same country or culture. In each experience, we learn more about ourselves and the other countries and the self-evaluation helps to make our family more accepting of all people regardless of their financial station, culture, color, language or religion.

We have 17 sons and daughters that live all throughout the world. We have a reason to travel to other countries. It so meaningful for the experience to come full circle. One of the most rewarding things for us is meeting the natural parents of our students after they have lived in our home for 10 months.

Learn what it takes to be a Local Coordinator.

Not interested in being an LC? Refer someone who would be great, and earn $100.

We are learning Portuguese

The Foster family resides in Milford, Delaware and is made up of host mom Katresa, host dad Micheal, their young daughter Finlee, and dog Boots. As a first time host family, they are hosting Lucas from Brazil.

“We moved from a small town in Western New York about 4 years ago and now live in Milford, Delaware. We have wonderful bakeries, fun antique shops, a great farmers market, and beautiful beaches. We love it here. There is a great sense of community and plenty to do here.

We decided to become a host family after seeing a posting about CIEE on social media. Our Local Coordinator had posted a very general request looking for host families for the 2016-2017 school year.

I didn't know anything about CIEE, and to be honest, didn't know much about the exchange student process. My only experience was from back in high school, I had a great friendship with a young man from Germany, named Marc. He didn't live with my family, but I have many memories of him hanging out with us and swimming on the swim team with us.

Foster 1

Having Lucas join our family has been wonderful. When we picked him up at the train station, I knew this would work. Lucas was all smiles and so were we. He is a genuine, funny, friendly, caring young man. He's open to do and try anything.  He's been tossed right into our family mix from the start. He immediately accepted my husband and I, and has taken very kindly to having a little sister who absolutely adores him!

Having Lucas here is really fun for all of us. We are learning a bit of Portuguese. Seeing that Lucas is always in the kitchen (he loves to cook and loves to eat, even more, and so do we.) the only words that are sticking with us are all food words. We cook many meals together and eat as a family almost every night. Lucas shares some of his favorite recipes from home and we share our secret family cookies recipes with him.  Finlee loves going with Lucas and I to the grocery store.  She asks, very politely, "Lucas how do you say____ in Portuguese? " for every item.  He responds with a huge grin, the correct word, very politely, for every single item. Finlee loves telling everyone that Lucas is her brother from Brazil. She shows him off to everyone!

Foster 3

Lucas just recently joined the tennis team at school; he's second singles. Mike, Finlee and I have been to the home matches that he's had. We love to see him play and we are enjoying seeing the relationships he's making while he's here. He had a great compliment from an opponent at his last match. The other athlete said he was "The most honest, and fun opponent that he's ever played against." Lucas called all the shots honestly and true and was really enjoying playing. How awesome is that??!! Proud parent moment, for sure! (For us and for his family back home in Brazil, too!) Oh, and Lucas is a terrific student! Getting honor roll for the 1st semester as a Milford Senior and doing even better this semester. 

Together we have talked about our upcoming trip to Brazil...and to Uruguay and Argentina. I say upcoming, quite loosely, but it will happen, some day! He wants to show us Carnival time and where he lives. Lucas wants to show us his family farm (many, many thousands of acres) and where he is from. We can't wait to see it, some day. We do get to meet Lucas' family in May, at his Graduation. They are coming and we have a graduation party planed with many family and friends. His family doesn't speak English and we don't speak Portuguese. Poor Lucas will be tired out translating for the whole weekend, but we can't wait. We love them for sharing their son with us for 10 months.

Foster 4

Having to share your home isn't always easy. Besides the ever growing laundry pile, singing in the hour-plus shower and the somewhat untidy teenage boy bedroom, it's been very easy. I don't think it could this exchange could have gone any better. I highly recommend the process to anyone and everyone.  We have loved sharing Lucas and all he has brought to our lives, with everyone we know.  We look forward to meeting Lucas' parents and brother and we look forward to an everlasting friendship with the Antolini family. What an incredible experience we have had."

Thank you Foster family for sharing your story!

Interested in sharing your story about how hosting has impacted your life? Post on Facebook and Instagram, tagging it with #WhyIHost and #CIEEBestYearEver.

To learn more about hosting, visit our site.

Not interested in hosting, but know someone who is? You could earn $200. Learn how.

We’ve learned to slow down and enjoy each moment as it comes

This week is Host Family Appreciation Week at CIEE. We reached out to our host families and asked them to submit stories about how hosting has made a positive impact on their lives.

The Benefiel Family is from Columbus, IN. Their family is made up of host mom Shelley, host dad Jason, and two sons. This year, they are hosting Patricio (who goes by Pato) from Mexico. They have already selected their next student who will be arriving in August this year. Here is their story:

Benefiel 1

“We live in a rural, farming community in Indiana. We heard about the opportunity and had an extra bedroom that wasn’t being used and thought it sounded like a good fit for our family. We’ve learned a lot about the area he lives in and about his family and friends. His being with us has also taught me how to slow down and enjoy each moment as it comes. With busy schedules, it’s easy to forget that, but knowing we only have him for a few short months really made me slow down and just enjoy things while he has been with us.

Seeing things through his eyes has been a lot of fun. We have been most surprised by the relationship bonds that we’ve formed with him—he truly has become a son and a brother in our family. Our home is going to be much different when he goes back to Mexico. There’s definitely going to be a missing piece. He has formed a lot of friendships at school and on his sports teams. He has done some volunteer work while he’s been here as well. He has also been active in our church youth group while he’s been here.

We got the chance to meet Pato’s family when they came for a visit in January and they invited us down for a visit, so we are planning a trip this summer to spend a week with Pato and his family in Mexico. We hope to Facetime as often as we can, and hopefully he can come back and visit us when he can. There have been so many highlights to the year, but if I had to choose one, Thanksgiving would be it for me. We had a large family gathering and before lunch, we stood in a circle and everyone went around and said what they were thankful for. It was really special hearing Pato express how he felt about us and that he feels like he now has a second family. It was a very memorable day. Thank you for this opportunity to host. It has truly changed our lives!”

Thank you Benefiel family for sharing your story!

Interested in sharing your story about how hosting has impacted your life? Post on Facebook and Instagram, tagging it with #WhyIHost and #CIEEBestYearEver.

To learn more about hosting, visit our site.

Not interested in hosting, but know someone who is? You could earn $200. Learn how.

Having an exchange student has made us get out and enjoy the gifts of our own great country

This week is Host Family Appreciation Week here at CIEE. We asked our host families to share stories with us about how hosting has impacted their life. 

The Elozory family lives in Tampa, Florida and is made up of host mom Bonnie, host dad Daniel, their teenage daughter Diana, and service dog. They are a first time host family and hosting Natalie from Germany.

“I love being a host mom. It gives me the chance to share our lives with another kid. We get to see the world and especially America through fresh new eyes. Our exchange student feels like an important and complete part of our family. We've had so much fun showing her America. It's made us get out and enjoy the gifts of our own great country. Getting to know all of the other exchange students in our area has also been such a rich experience for us. We find the kids to be very energetic, thoughtful and inquisitive people. They are the doers of the world. They've left the comfort of home to venture out and meet and live with foreigners. I find them brave and interesting. They have expanded our view of the world. 

Elozory 4
Seeing our exchange student blossom and grow has been exciting. She's gotten involved in sports, the choir and many things our own kids didn't do. We get to see her preform in shows and compete in events. It broadens our life experiences. We've met so many people because of her. 

I cannot recommend enough inviting an exchange student into your home. Sharing your life with another person expands your understanding of the world. It allows one to see things new and afresh. 

My daughter plans to travel to her student's home this summer. We are so excited for her to see the larger world. Certainly the exchange student program fosters a universal dedication to peace through knowledge and understanding of each other. We learn how we are different and also alike. It's a wonderful lesson for young people to learn. 

We feel very grateful for this unique and special year. I cannot recommend it enough!”

Thank you Elozory family for sharing your story!

Interested in sharing your story about how hosting has impacted your life? Post on Facebook and Instagram, tagging it with #WhyIHost and #CIEEBestYearEver.

To learn more about hosting, visit our site.

Not interested in hosting, but know someone who is? You could earn $200. Learn how.


Help Your Student Share the Love and Win

Greetings Host Families!

We are very happy to inform you of an exciting contest for our exchange students happening this month! 

Storytelling around the kitchen table. Soccer games in the local park. A helping hand when you need it most. You and your exchange student share so much. We want your student to show us what these experiences mean to them for a chance to win!

Please encourage your student to enter the CIEE “Share the Love” contest

To enter, have your student:

  1. Take a fun picture or video with your family – the more heartfelt or funny the better!
  2. Submit their entry HERE with a description of how much your family means to them.
  3. Share the photo or video on social media and don’t forget to tag us and use #CIEEBestYearEver.

Enter by February 27th and your student could be one of three people to win a giftcertificates.com gift card to use on a night out with you and your family.

 Thank you for making a difference in a young person’s life by opening your heart and home. We look forward to seeing your family’s photo or videos!  Best of luck to all students and host families!

CIEE High School Team


Meet Your Local Coordinator: Susan Greenhorn



As a host family with CIEE, you probably have now spent some time getting to know your local coordinator. Susan Greenhorn is a local coordinator who lives in Mitchellville, IA, and has been working CIEE for over three years. Those of you who have met Susan know that she is extremely passionate about her work with exchange students. 

As you know, September and October are significant adjustment periods for both students and host families. Susan has graciously agreed to share some important words of advice for host families to keep in mind throughout this initial adjustment period. Read on to learn more about ways to make this period of transition and adjustment easier for both students and host families:

What are some things that host families can do prior to their student arriving on the program to make them feel more comfortable living with their host family?

Before students arrive, some families have taken the time to decorate their student’s bedroom.  For example, one family studied their student’s profile carefully, and saw that the student really enjoyed basketball. The student’s host mom added a basketball pillow case and a poster of Michael Jordan to personalize the student’s bedroom. There are little things that you can do to really make the room warm and inviting for the student so that they feel less stressed.

As a host family, what is some advice to keep in mind to help your exchange student adjust?

Remember that they are a teenager. That is going to be the heart of the issue. Nothing beats communication.  Families can sit down together with their student and ask questions about their home country. Let the student know that you are interested. Show interest in their culture by asking, “how” questions to discover what the meaning is behind a particular custom or phrase. Keep away from yes or no answers. 

When you encounter differences or issues with your exchange student, how can host families solve these?

Try to see these differences as opportunities to learn about the student and to learn about themselves. For example, one host family was not helping their host family with chores, and this caused hard feeling between the student and their host family. The family sat down with the student and created a list of what the student is responsible for. The student simply did not know that they were responsible for completing these chores.

Any advice for students who are having a difficult time making friends?

Step in and introduce your student to neighborhood kids. Be willing to open your home to host a gathering, or allow other students to visit. Suggest to your student to invite a friend along if going to the movies, or on a day trip.

What can host families say to students who are experiencing homesickness?

Acknowledge that you understand your student. Compliment your student for participating on this exchange program and for trying something new. Don’t deny these feelings of homesickness or make light of it, it hurts for these kids. Relate with your student, but don’t dwell on these feelings of homesickness. Support students by visiting them during the activities they participate in, such as a sports practice. Go to events with students when they are invited.

Some helpful phrases:

“I really understand that you’re experiencing some homesickness. We are here to help you get through this.”

Do you have any additional tips or words of advice to share with our host families?

  • Try to learn as much about the culture of your student before they come on the program.
  • There are always two sides of a story, and sometimes a third.
  • Even if you want to scream, just breathe.

Help your student win a GoPro and $200 to Amazon!


The My American Photo Hunt contest, our first contest of the year, has been open for about a week, and we've received some great photos of students with their host families - looks like everyone is having a great year so far! 

Be sure to encourage your students to participate, and even offer to help them out! By helping your student to get involved with you (their hosts!), their school and community, you’ll help them to make memories that will last a lifetime.

How students can enter:

  • Download the My American Photo Hunt checklist from our contest page. Encourage them to use this as a guide to keep track of the photos they’ve taken and points earned.
  • Help your student to capture the photos! There are some great photo opportunities to take as a family! Check out the gallery for inspiration. 
  • Remind students to upload their photos to our contest page to enter the contest.
  • The student who has the most points at the end of the contest will win a GoPro camera, and a $200 gift card to Amazon. 

The contest ends October 1, so start photo hunting today – the My American Photo Hunt adventure awaits!

10 Things To Know When Hosting A Student From...

Greetings, host families! CIEE hopes that you are having an excellent start to your hosting experience thus far. We greatly appreciate your decision to be an essential part of our students’ exchange year. This experience will be both insightful, educational, and life changing for both you and your exchange student. We realize that with the exchange of cultures comes the exchange of ideas, values, and habits native to one’s home country. We also realize that this exchange may pose questions for host families around the country should they notice habits, speech, or reactions different from their own.

CIEE’s Support Team has collaborated to create 5 fun and educational videos for families hosting students from China, Spain, South Korea, Italy, and Germany. All member of our Support Team have experience living or studying abroad, and have worked closely with students from the selected countries. Videos can be viewed through our Local Coordinator Resource Center, which includes an online collection of educational resources. For your convenience, these videos may also be found by clicking on the links below.

10 Things to Know When Hosting a Student from…


South Korea




You may register to watch each video by completing the required fields and clicking the “register” button. We hope that videos will assist with helping both you and your exchange student experience a smooth transition into this exchange year. As always, please contact either your Local Coordinator or our Support Staff (1-800-448-9944) with any questions or concerns. Happy watching!