Your Family as a Host Family

Almost everyone can become a host family: families, single parents, couples without children and seniors. Decisive is the interest in international relationships and intercultural exchange. Host families accept a young person from another country with another language and culture to live at their home and integrate him as a family member into the family - with all rights and obligations.

The host family neither needs to have a large house nor a high income. For the student the life in South Africa should not be a vacation or a language study. The best way a participant becomes acquainted with an unknown culture is through the everyday family life in a typical South African family.

AFS Interculture South Africa places students in host families of all cultures, in towns and cities throughout the country. Because of the fact that many parts of the country are affected by crime, AFS Interculture South Africa cannot place a student in an area that is considered very unsafe.

As a host family with AFS one does not receive money because it is part of the AFS ethos that all host families get involved voluntarily. For the young student the family members are not only the main representatives of the host country, but also the most important persons of trust to whom they can talk openly about their feelings and experiences.

That way a person of a different culture can become a new family member and a good friend independent from the duration of the program, beyond the time of the exchange and beyond country borders. The whole family has the opportunity to built up international relationships through the AFS experience - friendships all over the globe, which can keep a lifelong.

Families, which are interested in accepting a young adult between the age of 18 and 30 years, have the possibility of giving a "community service volunteer" (CS Volunteer) a home for a time. CS volunteers are young engaged people from all over the world, who come to South Africa for 6 to 12 months in order to work in social, cultural or ecological projects. The CS volunteers are not "au pairs"; they do work outside the home! The volunteers and their host families are merged into the AFS support – network. The volunteers come predominantly from Europe. They are selected and prepared in their home countries and will take part in orientation camps during their time in South Africa.

Program Duration

Every year in March and August we receive a new group of foreign young people in South Africa. They all eagerly await new host families, a bit at unease, maybe a little scared, and for sure nervous. We are always looking for host families to open their homes and hearts to these young people.

We understand that sometimes families would like to host one of the participants but are unable to do so at this stage. Each year AFS students enroll in South African programs and are here for 10 months from either March to the following January, or August until the following July. We are always looking for new volunteers and host families to welcome into our network.

Sometimes for personal reasons families can’t host a student for the full period. Hosting for two or six months is possible. In addition, AFS Interculture South Africa often looks for short-term welcome host families.

AFS Interculture South Africa matches the host family and students according to preferences stated in application forms and interviews from both parties. We aim to match people with similar interests and personalities. The family may choose the gender of the student and request a certain nationality, but this cannot be guaranteed.


As a host family one does not need to posses knowledge of foreign languages. The exchange student wants to learn a new language and that works best if he comes into contact with it right from the beginning of his stay. Experience suggests that the participants are amazingly able to communicate quite well in a new language after three months: even without previous knowledge of the language. Most students have a good basic knowledge of English, which makes it even easier.


Attending school is compulsory for all participants of the student program. Host parents suggest a school to their exchange student.AFS Interculture South Africa approaches the school to host the student. AFS will take care of the registration and admission of the exchange student to the school.

In most cases hosted students attend the local high school in their area. They are obliged to attend school daily, wear school uniform, abide by school rules, write tests and exams, and participate in extra-mural activities. All students are placed in Grade 11 when they arrive.


When you choose to host an exchange student you become a volunteer. AFS does not provide subsidies for families hosting these students. The most important part of being a host family is not how much money you have, but giving the student time, care and accepting the student as part of the family. Families host because they want to open their home to someone from another culture and thus get to know the world a little bit better.

AFS covers the costs of travel to South Africa and back to the home country of the exchange student, the insurance, the AFS orientations, school fees as well as medical treatment. Schoolbooks and transportation costs to the school may be refunded in limited measures, but this is subject to discussions with National Office

The student and their natural parents are responsible for winter and summer school uniform, extra mural activities, eye care, dental care, medical care for pre-existing conditions before the AFS year, preventive medicine, visa application costs, long distance phone calls, entertainment expenses. For clothes and personal needs the students bring along spending money.

The host family is responsible for accommodation, food supply and family activities. It is expected that you provide the participant with his or her own bed, cover basic, everyday expenses incurred by having the participant in your home, arrange for transportation to and from school, and provide all meals.


Host families do not need to worry about insurance for their student. The participants are insured over AFS.