Q. My student seems tired even after he/she should be well over jet lag. Should I be concerned and what can I do?
A. Remember, it can be extremely taxing, both mentally and physically, for your student to transition from functioning exclusively in their native language to operating solely in an English speaking environment. They may also be experiencing symptoms of Culture Shock, peer pressure or having difficulty fitting in at home and at school. If your student is a teenager, he/she also has hormones and growth spurts to contend with which only adds to the struggle of adjustment and ensuing exhaustion. It’s best to be patient and give them time and space to acclimate. See section on Culture Shock & Adjustment on page 35 of the Host Handbook for more information.
Q. Verbal communication in English has started out slow between us and our student. What can we do?
A. Your student is most likely feeling very overwhelmed and also a little shy at starting out in a brand new family. They will be hesitant to "make mistakes" and simply opt to stay silent most of the time. WeChat is a great app for texting and translating that can help you communicate with your student in person or over text. It’s available for free download on any smartphone via the app store. Check out "Tips for Great Communication" on page 21 of the Host Handbook.
Q. My student needs a SIM card to make phone calls…where do I take them to get a phone card that will work with a iPhone/Android?
A. Students will need to purchase a new SIM card at Verizon, ATT, Sprint or another cell service provider in your area. Once the student switches their SIM card and signs up for service here, they will be able to use their cell on an American network without any problems. Host families may not add the student to their cell phone plan. Students will need to purchase and pay for their own plan. Tip: Students can use WeChat, Skype, Facebook or something similar to call over Wi-Fi for free and to save minutes on their cell plan.
Q. How can my student get cash for things they want to buy? They have a Visa card, but it is not a debit card.
A. Students can use their credit card to withdraw cash at any currency exchange or ATM that contains the logo of the card. Their parents will have to call the card company to set up a PIN first. Long term, it will better for the student to open a bank account so his/her parents can wire money to it directly as this will provide easier access to funds as needed via a debit card. However, only students who are 18 and older may open an account without a parent/legal guardian physically present. Host families may not open a bank account for a minor student on their behalf.
Q. Yikes! My student arrived with quite a bit of cash and stores it in his room? Is this safe?
A. It is not unusual for student to arrive with 3-5k is cash. Suggest that they purchase a reloadable pre-paid Visa card so that they are not carrying around large amounts of cash. Locations can be found here:
**MIF and Host Families cannot undertake responsibility for the Student’s personal finances or cash safekeeping and are not permitted to open a bank account on behalf of or for the Student.
Q. What are my basic responsibilities?
A. Host families are to create age appropriate rules and boundaries for their students, but are not held responsible for the student's choices. Host families should complete and submit their House Rules to their HC so that if there is a problem, these documents can be referenced to bring understanding and remedy the situation.
Q. What if I'm offered another student while hosting the MIF student?
A. Notify your HC right away. Hosts are not obligated to host exclusively through MIF, however hosts are contractually obligated to inform their HC of any changes to their Host Profile, including any additional students or guests accepted into the home.
Q. What if I need to travel/be away during my student's stay?
A. Contact your Homestay Coordinator right away. He/she will help determine if the student can accompany you (during school break, with parental permission and travel expenses approved) or if the student will need to be temporarily re-placed with another host during your absence.
Whenever possible, we encourage hosts to plan upcoming travel with the student's school calendar in mind to prevent the need to temporarily uproot the student to a different home while school is in session. Please refer to page 29 of the Handbook.
Q. How do I manage/balance my student’s privacy? Can I go in my student’s room to: collect laundry, clean, check for dirty dishes, bugs, concerns, etc?
A. The short answer is yes, it’s your house – of course you will want to make sure it's being maintained and cared for according to reasonable standards of care and cleanliness.
The long answer is, as with any guest staying in your home, there should be a necessary balance between your need to oversee and their need for privacy. A good compromise is to let your student know there will be times when you enter their room to collect the towels for laundry, dishes for washing, etc.. The best-case scenario is that you would be able to let your student know IN ADVANCE what days/times that would happen.
Q. When and how will my compensation be paid?
A. Details specific to your student's booking, such as compensation, can be found in your Host Contract.
Q. What is the role of the Homestay Coordinator?
A. Your Homestay Coordinator will be your FIRST and PRIMARY point of contact for any questions/concerns relating to your student throughout the homestay experience. If issues arise, your student may choose to contact their sending agent who speaks their native language, but they should also be encouraged to contact the MIF Homestay Coordinator who can provide quick resolution to most problems while keeping the sending agent in the loop.
Q. Should I be setting a nightly curfew for my student?
A.The need for a nightly curfew will depend on your student's individual behaviors. Some students go to bed at a reasonable hour on their own; while others might need some help setting healthy boundaries. For tips in setting up a curfew with your student, click here.
Q. Will my student be traveling while staying here in the US?
A. Travel plans for students will vary depending on their individual situations. In order for a minor student to travel without their Host Family, MIF must have a signed Travel Authorization Form on file. Without that form, minor students are only allowed to travel to and from the United States and their home country.
In some instances, students may travel home during school holidays. Sometimes, however, families decide to pick up their student and travel within the US. You will need to talk with your student as each break approaches to solidify their holiday plans.
Q. My student wants to sleep over at a friend's house, is that allowed?
A. Sleepovers, whether at your house, or at a friends house, happen entirely at the discretion of the host family.
Q. My student says his/her country doesn't have a legal age to smoking or drink... What are the expectations for MIF students?
A. In the US we have very clear rules and age limits for smoking and drinking. Other countries may not subscribe to these strict laws or even has a "legal" age at which a student is permitted to smoke or drink. HOWEVER, MIF Students are expected to follow local laws as it pertains to smoking, drinking and other narcotics, prescribed or otherwise. (See Rules of Conduct in the Handbook.) In addition, it is important for students to check their school’s policy on smoking and/or other controlled substances, regardless of age. In some cases, students found smoking or violating other aspects in a school’s Code of Conduct, even off campus, can be punished or face expulsion.
If your student seems baffled by US law please understand their reaction may be coming from a place of confusion, and not necessarily from behavioral defiance.
Q. What do I do if my student has a behavior issue?
A.Most behavioral issues arise due to differences in cultural expectations – what is appropriate in the US isn’t in the student’s home culture, and vice versa. Teaching students what is acceptable and legal in the US is part of the ongoing orientation we work together to provide all students. Host families are asked to create age-appropriate house rules and boundaries for their students and provide them to the student IN WRITING during their first few days after arrival. Host families should complete and submit their House Rules to their HC so that, if a problem should arise, this document can be referenced to bring understanding and remedy the situation.
Q. K-12 Monthly Report - why is this so important?
A. Your student's natural parents want to receive updates on their son/daughter, and usually the most logical source of this information is from the host parent. We appreciate the time and details you put into these reports to provide a complete picture of your student's monthly successes/challenges they experience at home and at school. Monthly Reports are a requirement for hosts to complete as outlined on your Host Contract.
Q. If I take my student for an activity, do I have to pay for them?
A. If your student has booked formal (pre-paid) activities or tourist excursions, they will be clearly outlined in the Host Contract and reimbursement included in the compensation sent to you. Otherwise, if you want to invite your student out (movie, amusement park, baseball game, etc.) but need to clarify that you are not paying for him/her to join you, word it this way:
“Wayne, we are going to see the movie, Coco at 7pm on Wednesday. The movie ticket will cost $12. Do you want to come?”
This clearly conveys the information the student needs to then decide if he/she wishes to join you.
A friendly reminder: If there have been any changes in your Host Profile or background check status throughout the year, it is your contractual obligation to update MIF regarding these changes. These changes include, but are not limited to, your contact information (address, phone, email, etc.), persons residing in the home, additional guests/students received during the MIF guest’s stay with you, changes to employment, pets, home construction or modification, and any changes in background check/criminal activity. THANK YOU!