We have hosted three students from three different countries, via AFS. Our first student was amazing and our local volunteers in Colorado were also great. I had no issues and no worries. Our second student was also amazing, but our AFS local volunteers in Washington were not very helpful when it came time to transport the AFS students to required AFS activities. This is when I realized that AFS doesn't have any paid staff members to support the AFS students or the AFS host families. Our third AFS student was also great, but she arrived late in September, during a time when AFS pleads with you to host. (we had not planned on hosting this year) This is when I realized that AFS takes families' money from all of the world even through they DON'T have host families arranged. One email we received in September stated that they still had 80 students to place in our region. This makes me very sad for the traveling students and the students' families. AFS told us that if they don't find host families, the AFS students don't get to come to the U.S. and they don't get their deposit money back. This makes me very uncomfortable. Knowing how much money is paid by the sending family, I am wondering where all of that money goes. (I have not yet met an AFS person who is paid).

The one positive piece of AFS is that all three students we hosted were wonderful and we still keep in contact with them today.

We have decided to only host through YFU now, because 1) the YFU staff in my town are full time, local people and 2) there are no long-distance required events I am expected to transport to and 3) we receive a monthly stipend (it's small, but it's nice to receive some kind of thank-you reimbursement).



The way we began hosting is that someone at work said her child worked for an agency and was looking to get a student out of a home. The student "P" was placed in a home on Monday and this was Thursday. The man of the house kept tell P that she was suppose to be blond. They would take the phone when they left. Anyway we applied at about 4 on Thursday and she came to live with us on Friday at 6 pm. Unfortunately she only stayed a week. Whatever happened in the home prior to us was too much for her and her family and the decision was made for her to return home. So the next year we decided that we would go through the entire process and choose a student. We did. We never had a host family orientation or meeting of any kind. There were no support meetings for the students. We drove 2 hours to attend a picnic - when we got there the date had been changed and no one bothered to tell us. The girls that we had were wonderful - but they asked us where there money went because they paid a lot of money. They asked if we were paid - no we were not paid. We decided to host again, but that we would research companies and go from there. We choose AFS two years ago and are so thankful to have found them. No we do not work for AFS, but yes we volunteer because we are host parents and we are not paid - making us volunteers. The reason we decided on AFS was because most of the people were volunteers and not paid. We feel that this take the monetary incentive out of the picture and that our hope is that this makes them have the best interest of the student in mind. We in no way think that AFS is perfect, it is not for everyone. That is why there are several organizations. The reason I replied is that I wanted to share a different view point on paid staff. We did look at YFU before we choose AFS, but it was to our disgust to find out they had shared information with others. I had students and people calling asking when we were getting an exchange student - we had not agreed to host with them and had asked them to keep it confidential. Do I think YFU is a bad organization? No, I think that person did the wrong thing, but since they would have been the one that we dealt with I knew it was not a good fit for us. I hope you have a wonderful hosting experience for years to come!