Learning about a new culture through hosting an international homestay can be a very rewarding experience, helping to enable people to understand other languages, food and customs. Find out all about how to become a host family and share New Zealand with the world.

International travel is one of the most eye-opening, life-changing experiences that a person can have – to interact with another culture not only shapes the way we think about the world, but it also makes us think a lot about our own culture.

But what if you don’t have the means to travel internationally? Becoming a host family is one way you can gain the experience of global cultures, without the cost of international travel.

Become a host family – share New Zealand with the world

Host parents can come from many different walks of life – married, single, retired, with children or no children – there is no typical host family, just that they all share an interest in meeting people from new cultures.

Deb from Wellington has been hosting international students for around 15 years – about 60 students have been through her doors, sometimes just one at a time and sometimes 3 at once!

“My family and I have hosted international language students for more than 15 years. I love opening our home to visitors and showing off our beautiful vibrant city of Wellington.”

Deb gets such joy out of showcasing her vibrant hometown to her students, but especially loves that the bonds remain strong even when the guests move on.

That is the one thing I love, being connected still to our Saudi, Russian, French, American, Brazilian and Asian extended family members.

Here are our top 4 ways in which hosting an international guest can be a rewarding cultural experience for you and your family:

1. Discover more about a foreign country

Visitors who find accommodation with Host Families NZ are coming from more than 30 different countries around the world!

Their language and cultural backgrounds are all unique. You can learn phrases in their native language, cook different recipes together, understand what aspects of home-life are common in different countries, and find out what people love and miss about their home.

2. A new way of looking at everyday life

By living together with someone from another culture, you’ll discover differences and similarities that shine a light on things you may have taken for granted in your own life.

One of our hosts called Prae says, “hosting has made us more aware and mindful of our own habits; from diet to water usage, to power consumption, to routine. Living with many individuals from a culturally diverse background has forced us to be more disciplined. We had to rationalise why we do things and how to make things fair to everyone.” (check out Prae’s host family review)

3. Sharing the beauty of New Zealand and its culture

Host families can make the best of an experience when they help their international guest become immersed in Kiwi culture!

Sharing customs, events and traditions help form an image of New Zealand at a grassroots level – it shapes the world view of who we are as a community.

Often host families find that as they share their country with guests, they start to look at home through new eyes; what may seem very normal becomes very special when we realise that not everyone around the world can live where we live.

4. New friendships and connections that last

The impact that homestays and host families have on each other’s lives can be quite profound and so it’s very common for hosts to remain in touch with their international family member for a long time after they’ve left New Zealand.

75-year- old Bill hosted his first student from Korea more than 20 years ago. “Now 22 years later, he still writes to me, he still calls me papa. He is the CEO of a large international company and when I see him on the TV, I’m standing up and putting my hands on my chest, and saying, ‘look, that’s my Korean son.’”, says Bill.

Giovana Reay is the Director of Host Families NZ, one of the country’s top homestay placement companies. She believes that global unity can be strengthened through the relationships created in home stay placements.

Host Families NZ promotes mutual cultural understanding, as we bring together different nationalities to expand their horizons and connect them to the wider world.

Giovana welcomes anyone to apply as a host family, and says that hosting an international student is a rewarding way for families to experience a foreign culture, as well as share the delights of New Zealand with the world.

If you’re looking to enrich the life of your family through new friendships, and cultural experiences, consider becoming a host parent – it may change your life.

To find out more about becoming a homestay family, or to register online visit hostfamilies.co.nz or just call 09 358 1531.

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