Student Exchange is More Than Just an International Friendship of a Lifetime

Student Exchange is More Than Just an International Friendship of a Lifetime

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Student exchange is more than just an international friendship of a lifetime

When families decide to host an exchange student, they say “yes” to adding another person to their lives for the sure chance of having once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In exchange for a bed, an extra plate at the dinner table, and a few additional car rides, there is a lot to gain for a host family that you can’t put a price tag on: 

  • connection and lifelong friends and family in another country
  • learning and broadening horizons
  • seeing everything with fresh eyes
  • inspiration for your children
  • forever memories
  • purpose, meaning and service for your family, community, and beyond
  • hilarious moments
  • heartfelt gratitude… and so much more!


Every year, we hear stories from host families who feel they have gained the world by hosting. Often, it is the small, insignificant everyday details of daily life that grip them by the heart and will not let go. Chuckling at his first English joke. Watching your kids cheer her on during her first soccer game. Teasing around the dinner table.

These are the things our families say will stay with them forever. And these are the things you won’t possibly see from the outside looking in. But these moments are why student exchange is such a life-changing opportunity.

As host dad David puts it, “sharing our home, our lifestyle and our chemistry as a family was rewarding for us. Showing our exchange student our culture, our church, our community and our region gave us great pride and joy, and we now appreciate them in a different way.”

International Experience (iE-USA) was founded on the belief that global understanding, which is becoming more and more important in the 21st century, grows best when it is personal and local. Learning from each other, sharing what we hold sacred to us, and growing from those experiences and relationships that are formed, is the best way to dispel prejudice, embrace the value of cultural diversity, and create lifelong friendships that span the globe.

As a non-profit exchange student organization certified by the U.S. Dept. of State and the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), iE-USA matches U.S. host families with carefully vetted high school students from around the world and supports them 24/7 throughout the whole experience. Exchange students attend local public or private high schools for a semester or school year and come with their own insurance, personal spending money, and money for school expenses, a proficient English level, and the desire to be part of the host family’s life.. Host families provide a bed and meals, help with local transportation, and the emotional support of a family. 

If you’d like to learn more about hosting, contact Regional Director Tracy Mabry at (808) 372.2597 or [email protected], or visit to see if hosting is right for you.

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