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What kinds of families make good AFS host families? Is my family suitable? We look for a secure, flexible, interested family who is willing to share their life with a student from another country. And while we encourage families with teenagers to host, families of all shapes and sizes have had worthwhile and satisfying hosting experiences. AFS families can be married couples with or without children, empty nesters, or even single parents. All types of families have forged bonds of love, learning and friendship as AFS hosts.

We have young children. Will it work? Younger children often thrive in the midst of an AFS hosting experience. In the early days of the experience they can often relate best to the AFS student. As a matter of fact, every year there are a number of AFS students who express a preference for placement with a younger family.

What kind of young person will we get? Can we choose? AFS students are carefully selected in their home countries. Each student is eager to share their interests, culture and way of life with their host family. An AFS student is placed with a family based on a combination of interests, temperament, and lifestyles. The family application is a vital part of the student/family placement. The more thorough a picture of a family's values, interests and living patterns they are able to provide AFS through their application, the better prepared we are to make an appropriate placement. Students have a wide range of interests and personalities. With over 50 years of placement experience, we are confident that there are students whose interests and personality will be compatible with many Kansas families. During that time, the vast majority of hosted students and their families have found their AFS year to be filled with learning love and memorable times. The final decision of student placement, of course, is with the family.

How will it change our family? Hosting involves everyone in the family. A new person in your family brings a fresh perspective to everyday life. Your friends and relatives will also benefit from your newly expanded family. Your family has ways of doing things which you probably take for granted. With an AFS student, you'll see that there is more than one way to look at the world. Hosting an AFS student allows you and your children to experience the world's richness and diversity. Hosting turns places into people. Imagine the joy you will experience and picture the fun that awaits you as you help a young person from another country learn about your family, school and community.

What are we expected to provide and how much will it cost? You supply love, moral support, comfort and basic needs, just as you would for a child of your own. Your AFS student will not expect to be treated differently, but as a part of your family. The cost depends upon a number of factors, one being your own family's level of expenditure.

Does AFS pay host families? AFS does not pay host families. Host families volunteer their homes and time to learn to love a young person from another country. Host families are entitled to a $50 tax deduction for every month an AFS student lives in their home.

Does an AFS student need to have their own bedroom? No. A large proportion of AFS students share a bedroom with their new brothers or sisters. AFS students do need to have a bed of their own.

Where would our AFS student attend school? AFS students attend the high school nearest your home. Volunteers in your community will be happy to meet with the school administration to make all the arrangements.

What happens during school holidays? Since the AFS student becomes a part of your family, it will depend upon what the family has planned for the holiday. If you have already made plans which will not accommodate another person, talk with your local volunteer about making alternate arrangements for the student.

What happens if there is a family crisis or change of circumstances while we are hosting? Local AFS support volunteers will help if an unexpected situation arises. Arrangements can be made for another family to take over hosting the student either temporarily or permanently. If this should occur guidance and support is offered to both the student and family.

How long will the student live with us? Most families host for 11 months, with the students arriving in August. It is possible to host for one semester, sharing a student with another family in your community.

What if we don't get along? AFS assumes the responsibility for a student to be moved if it just doesn't work out. Each year thousands of students are placed in the U.S. and there are instances where the student and family prove to be incompatible. A move is most often the result of unforeseen personality clashes or insufficient information about either student or family. Thus, for placement purposes it is important to be as complete and open as possible in your application. If a placement doesn't work, both student and the family will be given guidance and help by trained AFS volunteers in your community.

Who is responsible for the student? The student's natural family remains the student's legal guardians. However, AFS is responsible for the student's welfare and safety. While host families have the day-to-day responsibility, AFS volunteers maintain regular contact with families, students and their schools throughout the year. In an emergency there is a 24-hour a day Help-Line. Initially host families may feel overly responsible and protective. Eventually however, they find it easier to treat him or her as they would their own child.

Who pays medical expenses? AFS is responsible for medical expenses incurred by all students. If a student should be in an accident, call your local volunteer. If a student needs to be taken to the hospital emergency room, do so. Host families will receive medical claim forms with hosting materials from AFS-USA.

What kind of help is offered to our family? AFS provides a local liaison who works with you and your student to ease the initial adjustment and will help you get the most from your time together. In addition, there is a local pre-arrival orientation which helps your family prepare for the experience. Students have comprehensive orientation in their home countries prior to coming, upon their arrival in Wichita in August, and there are sequential orientations held in local districts throughout the year. Local volunteers organize activities and social events throughout the year. There will always be an AFS volunteer there to provide advice and guidance along the way during your hosting experience.

What makes AFS special? AFS was founded in 1914 by volunteer ambulance drivers during World War I as a means to promote intercultural understanding. To that end, we have been sponsoring high school exchanges since 1947. In that time nearly 200,000 students and families have experienced the lasting joy of becoming an international family through AFS programs. AFS is committed to diversity. As an AFS host family you have the opportunity to welcome a student from one of 55 countries around the world.

In addition, AFS has maintained its legacy of volunteer service. Today approximately 100,000 volunteers world-wide provide the utmost in community-based guidance, advice and support for students and host families. Many AFS volunteers became involved through their own AFS experience as either a host or student. Their enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to AFS will help ensure your experience is a fun-filled, exciting time of growth, learning and commitment.

How do we apply? You can begin the application process with your district or local AFS volunteer http://www.wtvi.com/heartlandafs/leadership.html or you may call (800) AFS-INFO (237-4636).

What are the benefits to students studying abroad with AFS? Studies have shown that students who participate in AFS programs exhibit increased maturity and self confidence, a heightened awareness of cultural differences, stronger leadership skills and are ore focused on their education and interested in the world around them. AFS also gives students a competitive edge in college admissions. More than 250 leading colleges and universities recognize the value of the AFS experience by granting AFS Alumni preferential admissions and/or scholarship consideration. Living and learning abroad also gives students an advantage in many careers.

What kinds of programs does AFS offer to American students? AFS offers 128 programs in 44 countries for students ages 15-24. High school students choose from year or semester academic programs or summer homestay programs with optional intensive language, community service, or outdoor activities. Whether students choose a year, a semester or a summer program, they can be sure of one thing -- they are in for a lot of learning and fun. As a member of a family, school and community, they'll find out what it means to live, study and really feel at home in a different country and culture.

For study after high school or community service, students up to age 24 can choose from programs in 17 countries. Programs include summer homestay, community service and university study, for which they may be able to earn college credit.

Does AFS have programs for teachers to travel abroad? Yes! AFS makes it possible for U.S. educators to experience the diversity of an intercultural experience through intensive, month-long programs in China, Thailand and South Africa. All programs are offered in the summer -- departing from the U.S. in mid-July and returning to the U.S. in mid-August. These programs combine in-class teaching, immersion into the daily life of the host country, exploration of the country's history and culture, and exposure to current policies. Participants travel as a group, staying with host families, in dormitories and in hostels.

What teachers may apply for these programs? Teachers of all subjects and grade levels, at all stages of their careers, including education administrators, librarians and college-level professors are encouraged to apply.

How do I learn more about AFS programs for teachers? For an application or for more information about the Intensive Educators Program, please contact Helen Wu at 1-800-876-2376 x442 or email at hwu@afs.org.


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