2016-17 Nationwide Survey of CSIET Member Organization Host Families: Exploring Motivations, Challenges and Benefits

Speaker: Barbara Cartledge-Rhymaun, Cultural Crossways & Anne Copeland, PhD, Cultural Crossways

The personal benefits of being a high school exchange student are clear: a widened world view, increased flexibility and strength, language facility, and more. What is less well-documented, beyond anecdotal testimonials, is the benefit to the exchange student’s host family.  Through daily interactions with a student from another culture, surely members of the host family learn to adopt a wider perspective on values, attitudes and norms, and come to feel more like global citizens.

Having quantitative documentation of this positive impact would be invaluable in building host family capacity, and in encouraging Americans to learn from educational exchanges to further develop their own global dexterity.  Similarly, quantitatively documenting host families’ challenges and solutions would also expand our understanding of the factors that lead to successful cross-cultural relationships, improve family support policies and programs, and guide effective placement strategies.

All J-1 Secondary School CSIET Members were asked to participate in this data gathering and learning opportunity. While most sponsors periodically gather information from their various constituents, this is the first time the entire hosting community was invited to provide feedback using one survey tool designed to help understand host families’ interests, motivations and experiences.  The intent of this effort is simply to help future host families have all the information they need to enjoy a successful year. This particular survey was distributed at the beginning of a new academic year, in part to gather information about the process of deciding to host and the motivations for hosting.   We also asked experienced host families to reflect back on the benefits and challenges they’d had in prior years.

We seek to provide data-based, quantitative evidence of:

  • The challenges host families encounter in the welcoming of high school exchange students, as well as successful strategies they used in overcoming these challenges, for purposes of illustrating quantitative results.

  • Any demographic, cultural, family, or value-based factors that facilitate maximum positive outcomes (For example, do host families with adolescent children have more or less successful experiences than those with younger or no children present in the home? How does size of high school influence program success?).  Much of the presentation format will highlight common myths associated with hosting, and share whether the survey results support or debunk those myths.

Cultural Crossways will share an overview of the survey results during a session on Thursday afternoon.  Those organizations participating in this research effort will be offered an opportunity to meet with the researchers immediately following the general session.  In addition, each of these organizations will receive a report summarizing the results from their participating host families.

Please feel free to contact our office at 703-739-9050 with any questions about this session.