Our host families are an important partner in the International Education Program in New Westminster. Due to our smaller, tight knit community we are proud to be able to offer our international students a welcoming home environment while they attend school in our city. Hosting an international student is a wonderful way to learn about another culture and an excellent way to create friendships that last long after the student has returned home.
But, what is a successful host family?
A family that is welcoming and patient.
The students in our program come from many different countries. For a young high school student to be far away from home and family it can be overwhelming. Our host families must be conscious of this and support the student as they integrate into the school and community. This may not be easy and will require understanding and patience, especially while a student is improving their language skills.
We do not accept hosts who are interested in the homestay fee only. This program is not about meeting financial obligations of the host family, and where this is the only goal of hosting a young person in the host home it quickly becomes obvious. Learning, building new experiences and the communal environment need to be at the forefront for a successful placement for all involved.
A family with time.
A host family is not expected to be beside their student every minute of the day. However, our host families should be interested in sharing their lifestyles and hobbies with their students and to be able to assist them in a time of need. Most students comment that being involved with host family activities was the best time of their experience in Canada.
A family that is open.
All members of the family should discuss their level of openness for having an unrelated person from another culture staying with them and the implications that this will have on their privacy and “comfort level” in their own home. Activities and schedules that you never thought about before may need to be adjusted with the introduction of a new person to the home.
Safety and protocols
The safety and well-being of everyone involved is at the forefront of what we do: because it affects our students, it affects us and it affects your family. And we will do everything within our power to make sure we keep people as safe and healthy as possible.
We follow and adhere to all the guidelines provided by the Province when it comes to how we manage and run our homestay program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/kindergarten-to-grade-12/internationaleducation/home_stay_guidelines.pdf
When it comes to COVID-19, our team and our students have been very strictly following all International and local protocols around travel and safety, and we will continue to do so.
While we can’t yet say what the guidelines will be like as we move forward, we can speak to how the introductions to new students went in January, when we last successfully supported students in safely joining our community. Here’s what we saw then: all students understood they had to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, and in many cases those students had also already isolated for 14 days in their home country, so they didn’t risk losing their opportunity to have this amazing experience. All students adhered to International regulations when it came to getting negative COVID tests before arrival. And once here, families have spoken to us about how considerate and mindful of protocols the students placed with them have been.
How to apply
If you would like to apply to become a homestay family, the process is as follows:
- Thoroughly read and discuss the information and responsibilities related to hosting, as shared here and through the links on this page.
- Create an account through the secure online Homestay Application Portal.
- When completed, click “submit” and your application will be sent to the Homestay Manager.
- The Homestay Manager will review your application and, depending on the time of year and demand for host families, will contact you to arrange a home visit.
- During the home visit the Homestay Manager will discuss hosting students in more detail and will view the host student room and common areas of your home.
- All adults (18 years of age and above) in the host home must successfully complete a background check through their local police department.
- When all documentation is received you are ready to welcome your first student into your home!
The Homestay Manager will place students based on suitability, availability and location. It is the goal of our program to achieve the best match for our students and host families.
Looking for more?
The below documents also cover some of the frequently asked questions we get.
If you can’t find the information here, or if you’d like just like to have a conversation, please contact Homestay Manager Sara Dick: firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-517-6280. (Sara has also hosted studenters herself, so she can speak to both the process and share personal reflections on what the experience was like!)