Want to Foster International Relations? Host an Exchange Student!

Swiss foreign exchange student Stefan Burchard (third from L) poses with Trustee Anna Eastman's children: Abby, Ely and Daniel (from L).

If you’ve ever considered hosting a foreign exchange student for a year, this might be your chance.

But act quickly, as time is running out for dozens of hopeful students who want to come to Houston this fall to live and study.

More than 75 applicants are still waiting to be matched with host families before the Aug. 30 deadline. Twelve students are already here, including one junior from Switzerland matched with Board of Education President Anna Eastman.

“Stefan got here on August 7, and it’s been great,” said Eastman. “He really has fit in very well with our family, and it adds something pretty interesting to my kids and our household. He’s sharing a room with my 16-year-old son, and they’ve already figured out their own spaces. He plays the trumpet, and I was a little bit nervous about that, but it turns out I have a great house for trumpet practice.”

“It’s been great,” said Lamar High School parent Annie Redding, whose daughter returns to campus this week with an exchange student from Germany. “She’s only been here for a few weeks, but it’s been working out just fine. It’s real comfortable, and she’s no trouble at all. Some days it’s even brought us closer together, having to answer questions about our lifestyle. My daughter’s excited about it.”

Carol Marshall, a volunteer hosting coordinator with AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service), says the goal of hosting “is truly for cultural understanding. It challenges cultural stereotypes and builds international acumen.”

Interested families need not have school-age students to host an exchange student, and exchange students who enroll in district schools are not displacing local children who wish to attend those campuses.

“These placements are considered ‘beyond the caps,’” said Marshall. “They’re qualified to attend the schools they pick, and they’re only going to be here for one year. They’re not seeking a diploma.”

For more information about hosting an exchange student, please contact Carol Marshall at 713-203-5502 or visit the AFS-USA website.