host family

What is the AFS Host Family Learning Journey?

In an AFS program, host families do more than welcome an exchange student—they accompany them on a learning journey.

Hosting an international student provides a rewarding and transformative experience for the whole family. Before, during, and after their AFS Global Family Program, every AFS host family benefits from an educational curriculum based on a proven approach that we developed over 75 years of expertise in intercultural exchange.

Through their learning journey, host families gain key knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to develop as active global citizens. These abilities include self-awareness, effective communication and empathy, open-mindedness, and global concern. Working through these learning objectives builds a foundation for families’ active global citizenship, encouraging them to make positive changes in local, national and global communities. They become Global Families.

Besides impacting students and host families participating in our programs, AFS’s reach extends to others who come into close contact with them, such as AFS volunteers and the school community. We call this the #AFSeffect.

Download the AFS Framework for Active Global Citizens

What do you experience on the AFS Host Family Learning Journey?

The AFS Host Family Learning Journey is a carefully designed curriculum that engages families hosting AFS students with content related to intercultural learning at every step of their experience: before students arrive, during their time hosting an AFS student, and after students return to their home country.

This unique approach prepares host families for their intercultural experience and supports them at each moment as they build their intercultural awareness and understanding as active global citizens. It includes local orientation sessions, guided reflection, online tools and other educational activities that help families better support their hosted student’s adjustment into the new culture, as well as their global citizenship education experience outlined in the AFS Student Learning Journey.

  • Online tools: As they prepare to welcome an AFS student, families can access the Global Family Tools online platform. Here, they can access information about the program, such as rules and guidelines, as well as learning resources about cultural differences, cross-cultural communication, and culture-specific insights about the country of origin of their AFS student.
  • Local activities: Before the host student’s arrival, families participate in a locally scheduled group orientation session that provides opportunities for families to reflect on who they are and what they know and think about their own culture to have a meaningful intercultural experience. This orientation, led by AFS staff and volunteers, will be a great way to meet other families in their local community who are also participating in an AFS Global Family Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

The AFS Host Family Learning Journey was developed to support all AFS Global Family programs, that is, all families hosting an AFS exchange student.

AFS Global Family Programs


AFS High School Program

Duration: 3 to 10+ months, starting at the beginning or the middle of the school year. Students will be 15 –18 years old.


AFS Short Programs

Duration: 2 –11 weeks, starting throughout the year. Students will be 15–18 years old.