Host Family Program

To apply to become a host family please fill out the Host Family Application.

Houghton’s Host Family Program matches international students and Third Culture Kids (TCK’s) with local families in the Houghton community.  Intercultural students wishing to participate are paired with local families who serve as a kind of home-away-from-home for students whose families are often very far away.  Host families often play an important part in helping intercultural students adjust to a new place, a new school, a new culture, and a new stage of life.

While continued participation in the Host Program is entirely voluntary many students form close bonds with their host family and remain connected until the end of college (and sometimes beyond).  Students are generally matched with families in pairs which makes initial conversation easier and the relationship building smoother.  Additionally, many host families have spent significant time overseas, and occasionally we’re even able to match students with a family that has lived in the student’s home country.  All host families have a real heart for international students.

It is important to note that students are not housed with their host family; rather host families serve as a valuable connection point, friend, advocate, and resource for students.  Common activities for host students and families include dinner at the host’s home, twice a semester large group host events, field trips to local sights, possible housing options during school breaks, care packages for birthdays or finals, etc.

Host Family Suggestions

  • Get to know your students
  • Take initiative
  • Invite your students to your house (and offer to provide transportation)
  • Learn about your students’ cultures
  • Show warm and generous hospitality – many students come from cultures with very different expectations of hospitality
  • Send them notes, cards, birthday surprises, etc.
  • Offer to take them shopping, to church, or out to eat.
  • Host a game or movie night for your students and their friends
  • Offer to store their stuff at your house over summer break
  • Take them to Letchworth, the Maple Tree Inn, Niagara Falls, or another fun local attraction
  • While there is no expectation to house students during school breaks – an offer is always appreciated

Host Student Suggestions

  • Get to know your family
  • Invite your family to join you for a campus event (football match, concert, lecture, etc.)
  • Make a counter-offer – If you can’t come to something you’re invited to, feel free to offer an alternative date or another option
  • Communicate – replying to phone calls or emails in a timely manner is a good idea in the U.S.
  • Invite your host Mom/Dad to join you for coffee or tea in JAVA 101
  • Offer to cook an ethnic meal for your host family
  • Offer to babysit
  • Take the initiative – In U.S. culture it’s acceptable for you to take initiatve and suggest an idea

What if I don’t get along with my host family?

No problem. While we try hard to make successful pairings, we understand that sometimes it just doesn’t work out.  Some students find they get too busy, others decide they want to be more independent, and some just don’t “click” with their assigned family.  For whatever reason, host students are welcome to opt out at any time.  If you do decide to opt out, just let us know so that your family can be reassigned to new students next year.