My husband and I were recently approached by a friend coordinating host families for a three-week cultural exchange program for students from Spain this summer. We decided to go for it — it will be a neat experience for us, and it’s a nice thing to do both for our friend and for the student who will be staying with us. The other day we got the email that we’d been approved as “host parents” and matched with a 17-year-old young man!
We’ve figured out the logistics of which bedroom he’ll have and all that jazz, but we’re oddballs in the host parent world in that we don’t yet have any kids of our own and don’t know too many families with teenage kids. We’re probably closer in age to “our” student than any of the other host families will be (I’m 28, he is 30). But the last time I interacted with a teenager for three weeks straight I was one! We’ve read all the materials the program coordinator has provided us about how to make our student’s stay welcoming and fun. We have some ideas about fun things to do with him. We’ve even exchanged emails with him and he seems very cool (we share a taste in music, thank God!). But I know that on the evening he arrives, at some point we’ll all just be staring at each other thinking, “Now what?!”
So for those of you who have experienced host parenting, or have teenagers in your family — words of advice for how to interact with these strange, wonderful creatures? And for those of you who have been exchange students — what made your stay particularly great/awful? Has anyone been in the position of student with host “parents” on the younger side of things? — Kisså