The world has gotten much smaller than it was a few hundred years ago. People can take a plane to just about anywhere in the world, whether it be Hong Kong or Sydney, and because of this, we are seeing the emergence of a new global culture that transcends the traditional boundaries of national borders. The internet and the advent of smartphones allows us to be connected to anyone in the world with a single click or tap, and because of this, many people have found a new interest in traveling.
One such way to travel the world is to stay with a host family abroad with programs like GP Homestay designed to connect international students with families that will allow them stay in their home to study and explore. While the benefits of traveling are many and well-discussed, the benefits of hosting an international student are not often explored. Having good experiences hosting students can make your home and family a more tolerant, cultural place, and there are a number of reasons why American families should consider allowing international students to stay in their homes.
First, hosting an international student allows you to learn more about the world. While we can always take to the internet to learn about different countries and cultures, it is much different than seeing and experiencing it for yourself. International students can teach you just as much as you can teach them if you simply ask. It’s easy for people to become self-absorbed into their own lives, without thinking much about the lives and experiences of people across the globe. An international student can help fill in some of those knowledge gaps about the world and turn your attention outward to a more global awareness so you can understand the issues that affect all people, instead of simply yourself and your immediate community.
Aside from being able to share their knowledge of their own country with you, many international students offer a way to brush up on a foreign language. Having someone in your home that speaks an entirely different language than you do can be a great way to practice that language, while also teaching them English. Being in a new country can be overwhelming enough for an international student, and having someone nearby who is just as curious as they are can be a real comfort to students abroad. You’ll also be able to take the skill with you into your everyday life, so it is just as beneficial to you as it is to them.
International students can also help you foster compassion and tolerance for cultures that you may not understand. Especially in today’s politically-charged world, having a greater understanding of people, no matter where they come from, can help fight intolerance and ignorance. Most host families come away with a greater connection to the world at large and a greater understanding of their student’s culture, even if it was one they were not totally familiar with and maybe even fearful of. Even if it may seem radical to some, hosting an international student is an excellent experience in culture, and should be an experience that many strive to attain.