Why become a host? 

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FIUTS presents a unique opportunity to welcome International Students, highlight the city of Seattle and enrich the lives of the families that participate. There are so many benefits to hosting a student for all involved. We learned about a new culture, we shared new experiences and our daughter learned kindness, acceptance and hospitality. This program allows us to connect with other people in a fun and intimate way that is safe and stress-free!
— Jennifer Dennis, Homestay Host
 

Since 1948, Seattle families and individuals have been welcoming incoming international students into their lives and homes through programs like Short-term Homestay, Thanksgiving dinner, and Friendship Connections. You have the power to continue the tradition and make Seattle a welcoming place for incoming international students. 

By being a community volunteer for a homestay or friendship program through FIUTS, you:

  • are a blowtorch against the Seattle Freeze

  • express values of cultural diversity, inclusion, and hope

  • promote peace and connections between our region and communities across the globe

  • learn about other cultures, and expand your own world view

  • create lasting relationships with students that may extend to visiting their home countries, attending their weddings, or simply catching up online

  • improve the experience of incoming international students and provide them with an experience of someone who actually lives in the US, rather than a stereotype in their mind from movies or television

Your warmth, hospitality and effort makes all the difference. Interested in getting involved? Let us know! 

 

Interested, but not quite ready to apply? Send us an email with your questions!

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Host a Student for Thanksgiving

Many international students visiting the University of Washington are eager to experience American traditions and culture.

Thanksgiving represents the very best ideals of our community spirit and tradition. Hosting a student (or students) for Thanksgiving dinner is a wonderful way to get involved with the FIUTS hosting community and share a special holiday meal with international visitors.

If you have never hosted through FIUTS before, please fill out the FIUTS host application to sign up to host for Thanksgiving. Otherwise, contact Manager of Community Programs Samantha Novak at samantha@fiuts.org or (206) 616-7025 and sign up by the first week of November.

(Students begin to sign up on Monday, October 29).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do students sign up for Thanksgiving?

University of Washington international students (ranging from freshmen to PhD candidates and visiting scholars) come to our office on campus to sign up to be matched with a local family or group of friends to join them for their Thanksgiving celebration. The deadline for students to sign up is Wednesday, November 14.

How will I be connected with my students?

Once we have all the signups, we’ll start sending emails to hosts and students connecting them with one another. Once you receive an email connecting you with your student (or students – you’re welcome to host more than one) you’re all set to communicate with them directly and let them know where and when to meet you on Thanksgiving day. Emails connecting hosts and students will be sent on November 19 and 20.

What countries do students come from?

The majority of students who sign up for Thanksgiving are from China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. There are also students from Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and other parts of the world. If you are interested in getting to know students from a particular country or region, please let us know when you sign up to host, we can't make guarantees, but we will do our best!

How old are the students?

University of Washington students range from freshmen (approximately 18 years old) to PhD candidates and visiting scholars - so they represent many ages and levels of study. If you are particularly interested in hosting a particular level of student, please let us know when you sign up to host.

How do students get to my home?

Most students are adept at using public transportation - if you are not able to give them a ride, you are welcome to just let them know how to get to your house via bus. Otherwise, you can pick them up on campus or at another mutually convenient location.

I'm a new host. How do I sign up?

In order to ensure that we are being responsible when connecting students with community members, we ask that all prospective hosts fill out our online host application. This is our standard application for all our homestay and friendship programs so if you’re just applying to be a Thanksgiving host, just select that option and skip all the homestay-related questions.

 
 

Why students love hosts, and why hosts love hosting

We have been incredibly fortunate to have hosted 14 amazing students from countries including the Netherlands, China, France and South Korea. Each student has given us valuable insight to their own cultural background, which was exactly what we were seeking, but the exchanges also left us contemplating and appreciating our own cultural context in a new way. Hosting a student is a unique and wonderful opportunity to share this great city with students as they arrive, excited and often a little intimidated, for their time here. We now have many more individuals we can call friends in different areas of the world.
— Michelle Primley Benton, FIUTS host since 2010
We have absolutely loved all the years of hosting students (via FIUTS) from around the world! We really feel that we now have an international family, have seen students graduate, get married, have families...even return to Seattle to say hello or live...It is a pleasure to be part of this organization since the mid 1980s.
— Emily M. Wilson, Mike Rich, and Garret Rich Wilson
Homestay was a blast! I loved it! I’m still friends with my homestay family and hopefully will be for the rest of my life.
— Juca, Brazil, 2012
I never believed in the quote ‘There are no strangers, just friends who haven’t met.’ Now I do.
— Prukalpa, India, 2013
This has been the single best volunteer experience we, as a family, have ever participated in. What were initially polite international acquaintances have become life-long global friendships. We no longer look at the world map in the same way. Learning about cultures, traditions, foods, hardships, governments so different from our own has sharpened our international focus, concern and understanding. But the real value in this program is seeing the reaction of our children and how they have benefited from the relationships. It has been an education unlike any they could have in a classroom.
— Jim, Mary, Joe, Tom and Lizzie Figel, FIUTS hosts since 2005
Thank you for arranging the homestay. It’s a wonderful way for students to get acquainted with American culture, and in the process, we get to meet some very nice people. I was so lucky to have met my hosts. They have almost become my second family now.
— Asif, Bangladesh, 2013
What’s the mirror image of a trip around the world? Hosting international guests. You experience the trip from the other side. International guests teach you about their culture (and also about yours). They can expand your way of thinking, help you learn a language, introduce you to new foods, and become lifelong friends.
— Ashley Steel
 
 
 

Homestay Hosting FAQs

What are the requirements to be a FIUTS host?

FIUTS is proud to have a diverse community of volunteer hosts. Our hosts include single professionals and current students; retired individuals and multigenerational households; and families of all shapes and sizes.

Some of our homestay hosting opportunities require that hosts provide a spare bedroom for guests; for other programs, however, an air mattress, futon, or pull-out couch in the living room is all you need! Hosts are generally welcome to offer homestays to more than one student at a time, and many hosts prefer to accommodate students in pairs. While most of our hosts are based in Seattle, we also have many hosts to the north, south, and east – even in Tacoma. Specific requirements for hosting vary somewhat based on the program, so please refer to the program descriptions for additional information.

Most importantly, we ask that our hosts have an open mind, a sense of curiosity and openness towards new cultures, and enthusiasm for sharing your own culture with a visitor.

What are the goals of the FIUTS hosting programs?

Our hosting programs are primarily cultural exchanges - FIUTS wants you to actively represent your culture while learning about others!

How much time do homestay hosts spend with their students?

You do not need to be available at all times during their stay with you; FIUTS recognizes that hosts have busy schedules, and many work full-time. Hosts are encouraged to spend time with students during evenings and weekends. Generally, students are also participating in international orientation or other programming during the homestay period, so they will not be at home all day every day. When you sign up to host, we will provide you with a schedule that describes what students will be doing while they are staying with you, as well as recommendations for activities to do with your host students.

What are students' requirements during the homestay period?

FIUTS works to prepare students for the homestay experience so that participants will be ready to engage in a cultural exchange. For students in Youth Leadership and Summer English Camp programs, we provide an in-person homestay orientation. For UW international students whose homestay begins as soon as they arrive in the U.S., we send a series of pre-arrival emails that offer important information about local culture and tips for a successful homestay experience. Students are expected to abide by the FIUTS code of ethics.

How long will students stay with me?

The time frame for homestays varies depending on the program, but are all short-term:

UW Welcome Week: 7-10 days

Seattle Language and Culture Institute: One weekend, Friday afternoon through Sunday evening

Short term visiting programs: Varying from 3-11 days, depending on the program. 

Where do UW international students live once their homestay is over?

Many students live in the residence halls, in which case hosts will be provided with move-in information. Other students live off-campus, in which case they may still need to secure housing once they arrive in Seattle as finding off-campus housing from outside the country is very difficult. Many students connect with others looking for housing when they start orientation and find a house with other students. Other students may need to conduct an apartment search, which hosts can help them with. FIUTS has some resources available to students about searching for housing here.

What are the students like?

FIUTS international students come from a wide range of countries and study in a variety of fields. They include new undergraduates, visiting exchange students, graduate or even post-doctoral scholars at the University of Washington. The majority of our students come from Pacific Rim countries (China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, etc.), but there are also many students from Europe, as well as some from the Middle East, Latin America, and other regions.

In addition to UW students, we also offer opportunities to host middle school and high school students participating in Youth Leadership and Summer English Camp programs.

How do you match hosts and students?

When you apply to be a FIUTS host, you may indicate if there are regions of the world, languages, or fields of study that are of particular interest to you. FIUTS endeavors to match hosts and students based on common interests and shared experiences so that a true friendship develops during the hosting experience. When we identify a student who seems like a good match, we will contact you directly. Hosts are welcome to decline a match at any time if it doesn't work them - there is never an obligation to host when you sign up to participate in FIUTS programs. FIUTS also takes into account personal details such as allergies, dietary restrictions, and etc. FIUTS works to ensure that the homestay experience is an enjoyable one for all involved.

Should I pick my student up at the airport?

For our short-term visiting programs such as the Youth Leadership Programs, the Seattle Summer English Program, and the Study of the U.S. Institute, FIUTS will pick up students at the airport and hosts will meet them on campus after their arrival.

For Welcome Week homestays for UW international students, it’s best if you can pick your student up at the airport. However, if you are not able to do so, you are welcome to give your student directions for how to take a taxi, shuttle, or public transportation to your home. We send information about airport transportation to all incoming international students, and the email we send them is archived here.

When will I know about a potential homestay student?

We aim to place Welcome Week students with their host families at least two weeks prior to their arrival in Seattle. Most placements are made 3-6 weeks before the student's arrival. For short-term visiting programs, we aim to confirm all hosts at least two weeks before the homestay and provide hosts with information about their individual students approximately one week before the homestay.

Sound Great? Fill out a hosting application here.

Additional Questions? Contact Manager of Community Programs Samantha Novak at samantha@fiuts.org or (206) 616-7025.

 

Bring the world to work

The World to Work Program

Are you a professional in the Puget Sound region? Your advice and expertise can make a real difference in shaping the career of a visiting student interested in your field!

The FIUTS World to Work Program offers University of Washington students from around the world an opportunity to explore career paths, practice institutional skills, and connect with professionals in the Greater Puget Sound region. (Students, please click here for information on how you can be involved in World to Work.)

Sign up to give a workplace tour, meet a group of students for coffee, or host a happy hour with advice for a group of students in your field. Make a difference in the strategies and networks of international students at UW (and have a lot of fun at the same time). Contact Samantha Novak, Manager of Community Programs at samantha@fiuts.org with questions or interest!

 

Don't have the space to be a homestay host? Become a Friendship Connection!

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For those who don’t have the extra space for a homestay, Friendship Connections are an excellent way to help international students.

About Friendship Connections

FIUTS Friendship Connection volunteers have regular contact with their assigned student throughout the school year and occasionally invite their student to participate in a variety of social activities. Most Friendship Connections meet once or twice a month.

When students first arrive, they can be overwhelmed with being in a new place. The comfort of a connection to their Friendship Connection can help in this transition.

 

Goals of the Friendship Connections Program

The goal of the FC program is to build international understanding. The relationship between Friendship Connections and students is a two-way process in which both have much to offer each other in terms of cultural knowledge and exchange. As a Friendship Connection, you share basic cultural information, acting as a de facto cultural ambassador. You also ask and learn from your student about his or her culture.

    FIUTS provides all new Friendship Connections with program guidelines, tips for a successful Friendship Connection, and suggestions for activities that you can do with your Friendship Connection student.  Check out the handbook here (PDF)

    To apply to be a Friendship Connection, fill out the FIUTS Hosting Application

    Questions? Contact Manager of Community Programs Samantha at samantha@fiuts.org or (206) 616-7025.