Host families needed in Wisconsin: How you can bring culture to your doorstep

Photo courtesy CETUSA

By Salina Heller

January 9, 2024

By opening your home to an international exchange student, you’ll provide a unique experience for your family as well as the student.

Are you an empty nester who misses having a child at home? Do you want to share the Wisconsin lifestyle by taking a student to a Packer game and later explaining to them what cheese curds are? Have you always wanted to experience other cultures but haven’t been able to?

The Council for Educational Travel, USA (CETUSA) is looking for 165 hosts for high school students throughout the country for the 2024-2025 school year. 76 CETUSA exchange students are going to school in Wisconsin right now.

What do host families actually do?

  • Provide a bed on a frame, dresser, and/or closet
  • Provide a bedroom with a door that may be shared with a host sibling
  • Provide a place to study within the home
  • Provide meals when student is present
  • Provide transportation for school activities
  • Pass a criminal background check for everyone over 18 in the house

Local CETUSA coordinator Denise Hubbard explains that exchange students leave their home countries with an intellectual curiosity and eagerness to learn. “They want to experience our culture, speak our language, get to know the locals, and live as an American teenager,” she told us.

The “best” host families:

  • Treat the student as a member of family
  • Set clear expectations for household chores and family responsibilities
  • Share and support interests (sports, hobbies, music, cooking, pets, etc), holidays, and family traditions–yours and theirs
  • Maintain open communication and encourage mutual respect for cultural differences
  • Be prepared to help student with culture shock and/or homesickness
  • Have FUN anduse their time together to explore the state/region/neighborhood together, learning about its geography/history, and experiencing all it has to offer

Hubbard calls the exchange mutually beneficial. “It’s a way to promote and educate others on the benefits of living in Wisconsin and being a ‘cheesehead’,” she added.

What do you get out of being a host?

  • Knowledge about another country, its language, and culture
  • New, lifelong friendships
  • Skills that will help with future careers or social interactions

Interested? If you’d like to host a CETUSA student this year you can contact Hubbard at Denise4CETUSA_ER@outlook.com. Families can apply online at any time. The application approval process varies, depending on things like home visits and background checks.


Author

  • Salina Heller

    A former 15-year veteran of reporting local news for western Wisconsin TV and radio stations, Salina Heller also volunteers in community theater, helps organize the Chippewa Valley Air Show, and is kept busy by her daughter’s elementary school PTA meetings. She is a UW-Eau Claire alum.

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