The recruitment of families to host participants from other countries is an important role for every AFS partner. AFS has invited families to welcome international students into their homes since 1947; and this has long been considered a key element in the well-being of exchange students – host families provide so much more than shelter and meals. Hosting a student can also be very beneficial for the families, it is an opportunity to learn about different cultures and traditions and helps families bond, creating lifelong friendships around the world.
This page is focused on the resources that volunteers can download to help in finding, selecting, and supporting host families. Full details about being a host family can be found here.
The first stage of recruiting a host family is getting the message out that AFS is around and arousing curiosity about the benefits of being a host family. You can download this Become A Host Family poster which can be pinned up anywhere that groups of potential host families gather – this could be noticeboards in schools, churches, supermarkets. Simply print out the form and cut up from the bottom to make the tear-off information that people can take away with them.
The next stage, once someone has shown an interest, is to give them more information, so that they can consider the benefits and the commitment. This can be done in a variety of ways:
- Have a coffee and explain what it means to be a host family.
- Put the prospective family in contact with someone in their area that has already hosted.
- Provide the link to the main host family page www.afs.org.za/host-an-afser
- Download and give them this Being-a-Host-Family-Provided-before-application handout which summarises the main features of being a host family.
Once the family have considered the benefits and commitments of hosting, they need to complete an Application Form. We would prefer that, if possible, they complete this PDF form electronically HOST-FAMILY-APPLICATION-Fillable-PDF (7 May 2021) However, if that is not possible, this Word document HOST-FAMILY-APPLICATION-Word (7 May 2021) can be printed off for them to complete by hand (we will then have to type it up once it is received in the National Office).
Once the Application Form has been received and reviewed, a Home Interview needs to take place. Good practice would be for two volunteers to conduct the interview (this is an opportunity for an experienced volunteer to work with a new volunteer).
Once the family have been selected as a Host Family, their paperwork should be forwarded to the National Office. Also at this time, the volunteer who will be their Contact Person should be assigned. The Contact Person should arrange an informal meeting within the first few weeks – this is to welcome the family into AFS and to talk them through the process going forward. At the first meeting the family should be provided the Host-Family-Handout-1-Given-after-selection handout which talks about their Learning Journey and gives an introduction to some of the basics of ICL. The aim of this, and subsequent, meetings is to keep the family involved and interested and to help them better prepare for hosting a participant. The family should also be invited to any upcoming events that the chapter will be holding.
Between one and two months after the first meeting, the Contact Person should arrange for a second informal meeting. This will get the family used to the monthly contacts that they should expect once they are hosting.
The second meeting is an opportunity for any questions that come up to be answered. At this time they should be provided with the second handout Host-Family-Handout-2-Given-1-month-after-Handout-1 which introduces the concepts of stereotypes and generalisations.
The chapter also will need to put together a short Host Family Orientation. This can been done at the same time as a chapter meeting – for example have the meeting in the morning, host families arrive at lunchtime for a ‘bring and braai’ get-together and orientation in the afternoon. During the orientation there should be an opportunity to go through the handbook Host-Family-Handbook-Oct-2018 with the agreement that host families can always ask later of there is anything that they are not sure about.
The information and materials on this page are intended to assist volunteers in their efforts to recruit and support host families; if there is anything that isn’t clear, or any addition materials that you feel would be useful, please contact the National Office.