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International Homestay Program

When possible, we work with local families to host OGHS international students. All families go through background checks and receive contracts and handbooks. 

10 Reasons to Host an International Student

1. Broaden Your Family’s Horizons
Hosting a student helps families learn about other cultures and traditions. Have you always wanted to travel but lacked the time or resources? Hosting an international student is a great way to gain those experiences in your own home.

2. Learn a New Language
All members of the family can try to learn a little bit of their host student’s language. This will help the host family understand their students’ experience better and help the student share their culture with their host family.

3. Share American Culture & the English Language
Help an international student learn about American and local culture through activities, events, and daily life. You will also give them an opportunity to practice English at home on a daily basis.

4. Develop a Better Understanding of the World
All people have unique experiences, and hosting an international student will allow you to understand cultures, beliefs, and traditions in other parts of the world.

5. See the World from a Different Point of View
You will have daily opportunities to ask somebody from another part of the world their perspectives on life. While individuals do not represent entire cultures, you will be able to learn about how people from other walks of life understand the world.

6. Engage with the World
You have the opportunity to talk and ask questions to people from around the world. Not only will you be engaging with your host student, you will also be engaging with their family and friends.

7. Promote Peace
Cross-cultural exchange promotes acceptance, understanding, and peace. When people know each other and understand each other, they help promote peace across the globe.

8. Make Life-long Relationships
Host families and students often stay in contact for the rest of their lives, visiting each other across the globe.

9. Do a Good Deed for Your Family, The Student, & the World
Consider going thousands of miles from home to go to school. Consider sending your child thousands of miles from home to study. What kind of family would you want to greet your child? You have the opportunity to be that family for another student. You are giving them the opportunity to learn a new culture and study in the United States while living with a safe and supportive family.

10. Have Fun!
Having an international student in your home is fun! Experience Sioux Falls and South Dakota from the eyes of an international student. Explore your community and state with your international student. You also have the opportunity to share interests and enjoy your time together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are we good candidates for hosting?
Yes! Host families come in all shapes and sizes. Some families have young children, some have school-aged children, some are empty nesters, some have no children, and others are retired. Your interests and preferences will help us match you with an international student.

How will our family benefit from hosting an international student?
Hosting is a very rewarding experience for all members of your family. You’ll learn about other cultures and languages in your own home!. You will have the chance to develop a life-long relationship with your host “son” or “daughter.” When your host student leaves, you will have a “family member” in another country to visit. For families with children, they will probably love having a sibling from another country, and they will learn about respecting others from an early age. Your hosting an international student will help create a positive impression about the United States and Americans, breaking stereotypes, and fostering mutual understanding amd respect.

How long do we host our student?
Hosting opportunities are for one year. After one year, you can choose to host the student for another year, host another student, or not to host again.

My family is not a “traditional” family. Is it still possible to host?
Of course! Host families reflect the diversity of all families and include single-parent households, parents with adult children, families with small children, and many other varieties. A few examples include:

  • Single adults
  • Working parents
  • Single parents
  • Couples without children
  • Couples with children
  • Empty nesters

What is required of a host family?
Host families should:

  • Be able to provide for an additional member of the family including a separate bed, suitable study area, and three meals per day.
  • Offer a supportive environment as the student adjusts to life in a new country and culture.
  • Be interested in teenagers and international students and have realistic expectations of what life with a teenager is like.
  • Help their student adapt to life in the US.
  • Familiarize the student with Sioux Falls and promote participation in O’Gorman activities and events.
  • Provide a safe and secure environment to live and learn.

Can they share a bed room?
Students can share a bedroom with a “sibling” of the same sex who is no more than four years younger or older.

Will my exchange student speak English?
Yes. All students at O’Gorman are required to speak English well enough to be successful in school. Some students will have stronger English skills and adapt more quickly than others.

Will I receive financial compensation for hosting a student?
Host families receive a stipend each month to cover living costs for international students coming independently to O'Gorman (on F-1 visas). There is no compensation for students participating in an exchange program (on J-1 visas). For more details, contact Dr. Caitlin Hamstra.

How will our student get around town?
International students are not allowed to drive, so the host family is expected to provide transportation. Students can also take the bus when possible. The host family is also encouraged to transport students to school events, cultural activities, social events and cultural programs

What if the student needs medical attention?
Students are required to have their own health insurance that will cover medical expenses.

Is there financial compensation for hosting?
Yes, there is financial compensation for hosting an international student to help with food and transportation costs. The international student pays the school a fee, and the school pays the family. For more information, please contact Dr. Caitlin Hamstra.

Who do I call if there is a problem?
Problems should be addressed immediately before they get bigger. It is also important to stay in contact with the student’s natural parents to help solve problems. If you have an issue with your student, you can also contact O’Gorman’s International Student Coordinator, Dr. Caitlin Hamstra.

How can I get involved in the O'Gorman International Homestay Program?

  1. Fill out the interest form below: O'Gorman Host Family Sign Up
  2. Dr. Hamstra will contact you with an application
  3. Fill out the application
  4. Review Homestay Family Handbook & Family Contract (located at bottom of page)
  5. Review International Students' Homestay applications
  6. Choose the student that would be the best fit for your family
  7. Online background check (done online, sent to your email)
  8. Home visit from O'Gorman representative
  9. Student agrees on host family
  10. Establish reimbursement method with the school (working with Dr. Hamstra)
  11. Meet your student at the airport in late August!
  12. Attend orientation session and sign the Family Contract
  13. Start school and your year of adventure and fun!

The cost for the homestay program varies for each student. Ask Dr. Hamstra for more information.

Homestay Families

Host Family Checklist

Thank you for choosing to host an O'Gorman international student.
Below is the list of items that need to be completed:

  • Background check (done online, sent to your email)
  • Initial home visit by Caitlin Hamstra
  • Family Contract (done during the first two weeks of the student's arrival)
  • OGHS Homestay Handbook: read and signed
  • Once-a-month contact with biological parents
  • Monthly reimbursement from the school
  • Home visit each semester by Caitlin Hamstra

Homestay Family Contract