Host Guidelines

NOT A Home-Stay

The Host Friend Program is NOT a home-stay program.


Students are assigned to a Friendship Partner for a period of one year, although the relationship may well continue beyond that year.

Multiple Students

We suggest that you consider "adopting" at least 2 students at one time. Many students come to the welcome reception with a roommate or friend. Having someone familiar with them as they visit with you is comforting, for both the student and the host friend.


If for any reason whatsoever the student and host are not compatible, it is reasonable and possible to request a change. Do not remain unhappy about the situation or simply neglect to contact the student. Instead, call the coordinators, Jon or Alana Varner (864-723-0821) and discuss your problem.

Cultural Background

It is helpful to be as familiar as possible with the cultural background of the student, the geography of his/her country and a few facts about it.

Dietary Restrictions

Some students have dietary restrictions based on religious or cultural preferences. Refer to your copy of the student's application. See "What to Serve--Meal Tips" in the link above.

Meeting With Students

You are asked to contact your student at least once a month. It may be just a friendly call, encouraging email, or an invitation. Keep in contact to show your interest and let your student know you are available.

If you are away for holidays or on vacation, let your student know. A lack of contact can cause misunderstandings.

When arranging a meeting, be sure the student knows when and where it will be and what time you will be returning them to their apartment. Transportation should be provided for the first few meetings, even if the student has their own car.

Part Of The Family

We suggest that, if possible, you invite the students for Thanksgiving dinner as well as some activity during the Christmas season and semester breaks. These may be lonely periods for them and it will give them good insights into our culture.

We encourage you to make your students a part of the family's informal living rather than treating them like a guest. Let them see you in everyday living situations and let them help you with tasks and activities as appropriate.


Religion and religious institutions are important to American culture. You are free to invite students to attend worship services with you, particularly during religious holidays, but you should indicate clearly the nature of the event as well as its sponsorship and let the student decide if they will participate. Many students appreciate the opportunity to attend church events as a part of their cultural experience, but it is the policy of CAIF that proselytizing is not acceptable.

Encourage Their Customs

Encourage your student to explain his/her customs, country, food, etc. It may be that the student will want to prepare some food for you in your kitchen.


Some internationals are uncomfortable with housepets. You should ask ahead of extending your first invitation and keep pets locked up if your guests are allergic or fearful.


Do not assume responsibility for financial, immigration, academic, employment, health or serious adjustment problems. Refer these problems to

Get In Touch

When you receive the name of your student, get in touch as soon as possible by phone or email to arrange your first meeting. Early contact is important since the first few weeks are often the most difficult for a student. Please identify yourself as part of the CAIF International Friends Program.

Prevent Misunderstandings

The student will have received your name and number. However, a written note (or email) with your name, address, phone number, email address, time and place of the first meeting, length of the visit and appropriate dress can prevent misunderstandings. Even if the student has transportation, it is best to provide it the first time.

Learn Their Name

Learn to pronounce the student's name correctly and use the name he/she prefers. Refrain from assigning an English name unless your student suggests it.

Remember: School Comes First

The student's first priority is to study. These young people are very serious students and keep hectic class and research schedules. You may find that you want to see him/her more often than he/she can spare the time. Do not be discouraged if this happens and do not consider this a rejection of your time and interest. Continue to extend invitations, even if only for a brief coffee break. Sometimes a well-timed email or phone call of encouragement goes further than a lengthy visit.