Hosts - Hosting
HOST is a national charity which links international students at universities and colleges in the UK with British residents who volunteer to invite students to their homes for a day or weekend.
- Every invitation is a one-off—there is no ongoing commitment to the student unless that is something which both parties want.
- The invitation can be for a day, for a weekend, or for Christmas (normally 3 nights).
Playing Chinese Chequers
Having an international student as your guest gives you an opportunity to connect in a personal way with another part of the world. You can learn about your guest’s culture and way of life, attitudes and aspirations. It is a great way to introduce younger members of the family to people from different backgrounds, and helps to make geography, and current affairs, come alive.
HOSTing is also a great chance to be an ambassador for Britain. And an excuse for visiting places in your area which you only go to when you have guests!
For the students, the purpose is to enable them to feel welcome in this country, and to give them an insight into the everyday way of life in Britain.
In the university, many international students make little contact with British students, and rarely have any involvement with community life beyond the campus. Apart from travelling to the most obvious tourist destinations, they see little of the country. And although they come here to immerse themselves in another culture, they can return home feeling that they have done that in a rather limited way, as university life is not ‘normal life’.
- International students come from all over the world: a high proportion of those requesting HOST visits are from the Far East.
- All HOST guests are over 18—a large number are on postgraduate courses, and are in their 20’s or 30’s.
- All students speak English—although undoubtedly some find a HOST visit an excellent opportunity to improve their English.
Florence feeding chickens
A HOST visit is above all about friendship and cultural exchange. A typical weekend involves chatting; cooking and eating together; an outing or two to see the local area; perhaps participation in a community event (village fete, church service, fund-raising event, Morris dancing!...); and possibly meeting relatives and neighbours of the host.
- Hosts invite one or two guests at a time, as they prefer. Occasionally we receive applications from couples who have one or more children with them in the UK.
- No student will be ‘thrust upon you’ - you will always be given information about one or more students and you are free to offer an invitation or not.
- Joining HOST does not commit you to offering more than one invitation, but we hope you will enjoy your first experience and want to offer 1 or 2 (or more!) invitations a year.
- No payment is involved—the students do not pay for these visits. They (or their universities) do pay an application fee to help with HOST’s administrative costs, and from this we can offer a very small contribution to hosts’ expenses after a visit, if they so wish.
If you would like to read what some of our 1700 volunteer hosts have said about hosting students, please click here.
If you would like to read what students have said about their HOST visits, please click here.
If you would like to be put in touch with HOST’s voluntary regional organiser in your area, to hear more about us and perhaps to offer an invitation, please contact us.