Have You Ever Considered Hosting a Gluten Free Foreign Exchange Student?

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 in Newsy | 0 comments

… Maybe You Can Make an Important Difference in a Young Person's Life!

Just a few days ago I received a notification on my Facebook page about two students who are gluten free and part of a foreign exchange student program, Youth For Understanding USA, hoping to be placed in a gluten free home. I was very intrigued by this for a few reasons. First, we've hosted a foreign exchange student in the past so I have a little bit of experience. Prior to this recent correspondence, I was unaware that there was a foreign exchange program supporting students with outside-the-box requirements. And third, I have wondered if my son (who wasn't at all interested) would ever be able to experience this type of opportunity, being that he is gluten and dairy free. So this, more than a little, caught my attention! 

After a couple of email correspondence, learning more about this program, and hoping that there might be some able and willing families out there, I wanted to make sure to share this information with you. Unfortunately we are not at a place right now that allows us the opportunity to partipipate in this program. But I can assure you that hosting a foreign exchange student was a fabulous experience and one in which I feel so lucky our family was involved. Perhaps you will find a new gluten-free student in your home this next school year.

Here is one of the emails I received. It contains a great deal of initial inforation about the program. For more information, or to get started finding your student, be sure to click on the links below. 

"Hi Connie,

YFU USA is a national program, so even though I am in Ohio and you are in Minnesota, you can still find out about hosting our celiac students.  If you are interested, then I will put you in touch with the Minnesota contact.

Thank you again for being open to the idea of hosting an exchange student. I really do believe it is an experience that impacts not only your immediate family, but your extended family, friends and people in your community. I’m hopeful that your family will enjoy the experience and that any students you host will become part of your family for a very long time.  

I really appreciate that you have already learned about our organization. Here is a quick overview about hosting with YFU. I’m also attaching a Common Concerns and Q&A sheet for you to read through.

Our program runs from August until June, so that is when students arrive & depart. Host families can be married couples with or without children or single parent homes with or without children. Having high school aged teenagers in the home is not required; many of our students truly enjoy having either older or younger siblings, or being the “only child” and not having to share mom and/or dad’s attention.

Many people think hosting entails more expenses to the family than it does.  Besides a family atmosphere, here is an overview of what YFU volunteer host families are required to provide:

  • A bed for the student. Our students can share a bedroom with a same sex sibling between the ages of 10-22, but must have their own bed. (No convertible beds, couches, cots, camping air mattresses or trundle beds)
  • Families do not have to cook every meal for the student, but must provide food that the student can prepare themselves, and the family is responsible for either paying for school lunches, or providing food for packed lunches (whatever you own children do if there are other children in the home).  On average, meals should be nutritious.
  • Have English as the primary language in the home
  • Familiarize your student with your home and promote participation in school and community events
  • Transportation to activities and events. Our students are not permitted to drive or operate any motorized vehicles due to insurance policies, but they can walk, ride bicycles, or carpool  when possible.  
  • Understand YFU policies and encourage your student to adhere to those policies
  • Transportation & participation in 3 mandatory orientations/trainings for both the student & the host family. Although they are mandated, they are also fun for the students and families to get together and talk about how the year is going.

Although Host Families are not paid to host an exchange student, the experience does come with rewarding benefits:

  • The opportunity to select a student who shares common interest/activities with your family
  • Cultural and language enrichment for your family and others in your community
  • The potential of a life long connection between your family and a global family
  • $50 tax credit for each month a child stays in your home

Students come with their own:

  • Spending money – Students are responsible for their own clothing costs, outing with friends, sponsored trips, school and sporting fees
  • Health and Damage Insurance provided through the program.  Students are responsible for paying any up-front medical bills (doctor’s visits, sports physicals, etc)
  • Multiple years of English training prior to arriving. YFU’s English scoring is higher than other programs, so our students typically speak better English then other exchange students from the start.
  • YFU Support from the local/field/district/national levels.

You can read through lots of information about hosting with YFU at www.yfuusa.org

If your family is considering hosting, we will need to contact the school to see if they still have openings.  

If you are still interested in opening this opportunity to your family, you will need to fill out our new online Hosting Application prior to being able to view student photos and beginning the student selection. Click here online host family application to get started so we can begin our process.

Thank you so much again for your interest. We would look forward to working with your family.

Take care,


Jamie Withem
Field Director, Northern Ohio
Northeast District
Youth For Understanding USA
Toll Free:866-444-2365 x1117
Fax: 888.898.2423

Youth For Understanding (YFU) prepares young people for their responsibilities and opportunities in a changing, interdependent world. 

Join YFU USA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube"

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