Secretary Clinton Thanks Families Hosting Foreign Exchange Students

Posted by Ann Stock
August 24, 2010

About the Author: Ann Stock serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

As American families prepare to send their children back to school, thousands of families and schools across the country are also welcoming young people from abroad to live with them and study in the United States. Nearly 27,000 international secondary school students come to the United States each year and are hosted by American families. Secretary Clinton recently took the opportunity to thank these American host families for opening their homes and hearts and personally engaging with people from all over the world.

Hosting not only makes a difference in the life of an exceptional student; it is also an enriching experience for host families and communities. Host families and communities have the opportunity to learn about other cultures and traditions, and often establish friendships that last a lifetime.

Some of the thousands of exceptional young people who come to study in the United States each year are participating in Department of State-sponsored exchanges. Through a rigorous competition, these students are carefully selected for leadership, language ability, academic achievement and motivation. They compete for scholarships to participate in programs that give them an in-depth understanding of democratic concepts such as student government, citizen empowerment, tolerance and respect for other cultures and religions, volunteerism and community action.

Host families exemplify some of our country's greatest values -- tolerance, generosity, civic engagement -- and the goodwill they exhibit helps to create a positive view of the United States that lasts a lifetime and has a ripple effect through American communities and the exchange students' communities abroad. Hosting is a wonderful way to share ideas, celebrate commonalities, bridge differences, challenge stereotypes, and experience a different culture.

I would like to join Secretary Clinton in commending host families for their role in creating the mutual understanding between people that is so critical to meet the needs of this and future generations. They exemplify citizen diplomacy at its best, and I hope the families who are hosting students this year will continue to spread the word about the importance and the rewards of exchange programs.

For more information about hosting a student on a U.S.-government sponsored educational exchange program, please visit the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website.



todd m.
Mississippi, USA
August 24, 2010

Todd M. in Mississippi writes:

samantha (my daughter) and i hosted 2 trukish university students last year. they will be friend for life! they LOVED the neshoba county fair (in mississippi). they have never seen such hospitality and warmth than during the summer of 2009 in what is supposed to be the bedrock of christo-fascism. ... my lesson is that i never realized how much pork we eat as americans ! we have pictures to share ! and we ALL love you HILLARY !

North Carolina, USA
August 24, 2010

David in North Carolina writes:

I'm assuming he meant "Turkish"

United States
August 24, 2010

RA in the U.S.A. writes:

This also applies to students from the United States who are able to travel to other countries. I spent a year in Ecuador as a Rotary Exchange Student when I was in high school and formed a very close bond with my host family. The bond was so strong that I asked my host sister and mother to travel to the United States for my wedding this September. The US State department denied my host sister a visa. The individual who interviewed asked her two yes/no questions, and refused to allow my host sister to describe her strong ties to Ecuador or present documentation of her job, etc. Then she informed my host sister that she thought she was lying and planned to illegally immigrate to the United States. Overall it is a very disappointing situation and the kind that reflects poorly on our country.

Ann R.
Michigan, USA
August 26, 2010

Ann R. in Michigan writes:

It's great that Secretary Clinton has done this. But it does not go far enough. At this time of year it's crunch time for programs. There are still kids out there that need host families, and those host families are out there. BUT... we have schools that won't take them. It takes "the perfect storm" - a student, a host family, AND A SCHOOL. I know of areas where host families are practically lining up to take students and yet the local school WON'T TAKE THE STUDENT. Why? What is it that makes the school either limit the number of exchange students (some to one or two) or not want them at all? When a school won't take a student, it doesn't matter how willing a host family you have. And unfortunately, you can't ask the family to move to an available school district. Host families get a $50 a month tax deduction for hosting (as little as that is) as an added incentive to host. Something needs to be done to incentivize the schools.


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