Becoming a Dad Through Student Exchange

STS Foundation host families come in all different shapes and sizes, each one offering loving homes and unique experiences to exchange students from around the world. Whether you have a house full of kids or are empty nesters, everyone becomes a special kind of parent - a host parent - when they say yes to welcoming a young person into their hearts and homes. Host dad Jeff Jones shares how hosting has allowed him to have experiences as a dad he might not otherwise have had.

Jones-Trout Family_Indiana

“My spouse and I do not have children, so being host parents to exchange students has been a way to fill that void. We have hosted five youngsters over the past eight years. Each of them has been a special experience for us. I am like an expectant father in the maternity ward each time we have waited for them to arrive at the airport. When we bring them home, I get to show them things that are new to them but a part of everyday life for me, like a father showing his own child the things life has to offer. It is fun to take them on walks around the neighborhood, and on bike rides, to show them our city. We travel to state parks to hike in the woods and view wildlife that is new to them but common for me.

We have attended parent-teacher conferences and are thrilled when we hear how extraordinary our kid is and what a pleasure it is for the teacher and students to learn about their cultures. We watch them play high school sports. We cheer when they win and comfort them when they lose. We help them choose outfits for homecoming and prom and meet their dates. It’s a vicarious experience for me because I didn’t have those opportunities in high school.

During school breaks and holiday weekends, we have taken the kids camping or traveled to other states so they can see the variety of places and people that make up the United States. All of our kids have visited sixteen states with us. They have been enthralled by New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Hollywood, places they immediately associate with being in America.

And like parents sending their kids off to college, we have experienced ‘empty nest syndrome’ when they finish the school year and we take them to the airport for their flights back home.

Jeff Jones and Students

These are fatherhood experiences I wouldn't otherwise have, if not for the exchange program. Sending them to their home countries is not the end of the experience. We stay in touch through Skype video calls and WhatsApp messages. We have traveled to their countries so they could show us around and learn more about their lives, cultures, and meet their families. Two of the ‘kids’ have returned to the US to visit us. We have created lifetime connections and become part of their families through communications with their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The world is smaller and our family much bigger after making these connections and building relationships. It's also wonderful to get Father's Day cards, letters, and messages from the kids because they view me as a second father who cared for and guided them as they had their American experience.”

No matter what your family looks like, there is always room for an exchange student who is excited to join you for family dinners, game nights, and other everyday experiences one might take for granted. Join the fun and show off your corner of America with STS Foundation! Learn more about becoming a host family today. 

Want to learn more?

Complete the form below to be connected with an STS Foundation representative near you!

Becoming a Dad Through Student Exchange

"*" indicates required fields