Hosts

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Robert and Anna Brown have been inviting students to their home in a small village for the last 5 years.

 ‘We met each other in Ethiopia, and we return there from time to time, so we've always been interested in people from other countries and cultures.

‘Since joining HOST we have met such interesting young people, in ones and twos, from countries as diverse as Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Mexico.

‘We offer HOST 2 or 3 weekends a year, sometimes Christmas. Most recently, in April, we went mad and invited three assorted male students at once. They were all post-grads. Xiongfei from China is doing a PhD in Public Health; Ramiro from Mexico is into Business Intelligence; and Pascal from Monaco is a lawyer. Everyone got on brilliantly, and we felt it was our best HOST weekend ever.

‘But each individual was fascinating in his own right, so if we had only had space for one, we would still have enjoyed the weekend very much. Our recommendation? Just give HOSTing a try! We did, and we love it.’ 




Who can be a host?

All sorts of people are welcoming international students through HOST. The most important thing is that you have a heart for hospitality, an interest in meeting people from other parts of the world, and that you take pleasure in sharing your local area and community with visitors.

The majority of international students are aged 19-30, so you also need to be comfortable with this age-group, although we do sometimes have older students.

You need to live in the UK, but you do not need to live near a university, as students are prepared to travel in order to enjoy the experience of meeting people and seeing the country.  We have hosts from the far north of Scotland to Cornwall and from East Anglia to Northern Ireland.

If you do live in, or near, a university city, you would be able to invite students for a one day visit if you prefer.

Most visits, however, are for a weekend (Friday to Sunday), or for 3 nights over Christmas. In this case, you need to have a spare bedroom for your guest.

Finally, you need to be happy to participate in HOST as a voluntary activity. Our hosts are unpaid, giving hospitality maybe once, maybe a few times each year, because they find it a worthwhile and interesting thing to do. HOST is a charity and can offer only a small amount towards hosts’ expenses after a visit has occurred.

What does a HOST visit involve?

HOST visits are arranged by our volunteer regional organisers (RO). Your RO will contact you to ask when you would like to welcome a student. The RO will tell you about some of the students who are hoping for an invitation. It will be your decision as to which student you invite.

If you wish, you can invite 2 students at the same time. Some students prefer to come with a friend. Some are happy to share the visit with another student you have chosen. A small number have their partner (and occasionally children) living with them in the UK.

The RO will link you with the student(s) you have chosen. You will receive each other’s contact details, and other information. It will then be up to you and your guest to contact each other and make plans for the visit. The student is responsible for getting him/herself to the railway or bus station where you have chosen to meet them.

While they are with you, we hope you will treat them like a friend of the family. This means chatting; exchanging ideas; eating together; sharing interests you have in common – or introducing your own hobbies; having one or two outings into your area; perhaps joining in a community activity.

You are offering the student a homely break from their studies; and you are giving them an experience of the culture and way of life in the UK. In exchange, they will tell you about their own country. A HOST visit doesn’t last long, but the parties involved often feel they have got to know each well.

After you have returned your guest to the station, you have no further obligation to that student. You may stay in touch. You may invite them to visit again. You may find you have no further contact.

But their stay with you will be one of the highlights of their time in the UK, and we hope you will enjoy your memories of the visit too.

Questions we are asked

Will the student speak English?

Yes. Some have English as their first language; some have been educated in English for a long time. All must have enough English to cope with higher education here. But some have had few opportunities to use English in a social context, and a HOST visit can really help with that.

Does anyone check up on the students?

HOST checks that all applicants are registered on full-time courses atUK institutions. This authorisation comes from a designated person in the university. This person does not necessarily know the student personally. HOST’s Regional Organiser, who will link the student with you, is in contact with the student and can ask any questions on your behalf before you agree to offer an invitation.

Will the student eat what I eat?  

Most students are very keen to enjoy ‘home-cooking’, and to discover ‘British traditional dishes’ – often they are very pleasantly surprised! We do ask them to tell us about any dietary needs and you will know these before you agree to invite a particular student. Usually any special needs are associated with religious or cultural restrictions, such as no pork or no beef. Some students require vegetarian meals. Some students offer to cook a dish from their country for their hosts.

I live alone – can I be a host?

Yes. Quite a lot of our hosts live alone and enjoy the company. Some people who host alone find it easier to have two guests at a time; or they involve local friends in one of their activities. Sometimes, single hosts who live in the same area each invite a student on the same weekend, and share activities that way. But having one-to-one attention from their host can be a real treat for a student.

Is there an upper age limit for hosts?

Not at all! We have hosts in their 80’s who are reasonably fit and active, and above all interested in people. Many students love spending time with ‘grandparent’ figures, because they have so much life experience to share, and perhaps more time to devote to their guests than younger families.

Am I going to be out of pocket doing this?

What distinguishes HOST from other schemes is that it is voluntary  - hospitality is offered from kindness and interest in welcoming people from other parts of the world. Hosts provide meals for their guest; run them to and from the local station; and usually take them on an outing. We advise students to have some cash with them so they can pay entrance money if their hosts take them sight-seeing. At Christmas, hosts like to give the guest a small present so they are not left out. After the visit, HOST offers a contribution of a maximum £10 per guest per night (max 2 nights at weekends, 3 nights at Christmas). Approximately half of our hosts do not claim this contribution.   So yes, you may be a little out of pocket – but we anticipate that, as with your other weekend activities, you will find this one worth a little expenditure!

How much notice will I have about a visit?

This does vary, but most visits are arranged between 3 and 6 weeks in advance, sometimes longer. If you like, you can set aside a weekend for a HOST visit, perhaps a long way ahead, and your Regional Organiser will find you a student for that weekend. Alternatively, if you prefer to do things at quite short notice, that will often be possible.

I’m prepared to try this once, but must I commit to more than that?

HOST does not ask for any commitment. Invitations are arranged one at a time. After your first guest, we will ask you if and when you might like to do this again. We hope you will want to stay on our list of hosts, whether you choose to host several times a year, or only one Christmas in three. We are never short of students hoping for an invitation!

How do I get involved?

If you think you would enjoy welcoming a student, HOST would love to hear from you! 

Please contact us and we will put you in touch with the Regional Organiser for your area.

This person will be able to answer your questions and help you decide if HOST is for you.

Thank you for your interest!

What do our hosts say?

Barbara Hargreaves hosted her first international student – a Chinese American girl - in June. She was quite nervous about doing it, but this is what she wrote afterwards:

Amazing beyond belief! We bonded immediately, same humour and laughed non stop. Walked for hours and loved every minute. I know we shall be friends forever. I would encourage other people to become hosts, as I wasn't particularly looking forward to a Chinese student, and how wrong was I! No negatives, all was good.

The Tatham family’s first guest came for a weekend in the spring:

It was an amazing experience for our family. If you want to educate your children about life, internationalism, economics, politics and more, in an interesting and enjoyable way then you should become a Host. We loved having Duoduo to stay. I just hope our next guest is as happy, confident, inquisitive, polite and fun!

Pamela Maher, who has been hosting for a long time, recently wrote:

A wonderful way to find out what is going on in the world, and meet the future.

Contact us

Unit K106, The Biscuit Factory, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clements Road, Southwark, London, SE16 4DG

 

Tel: 0207739 6292

 

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What do our students say?