When we receive a request for a homestay, we delve into resources developed over a long period of time. It’s a matchmaking process that requires information collected and catalogued about the host families who apply to the program, but most of all, that requires human insight and understanding that come from years of experience in matching a child, a teenager or a young adult to the right family.
Families, in Nacel’s French homestay program, volunteer to welcome a child from another culture into their homes. Very often, they’ve heard about a Nacel homestay from a friend of theirs, or someone in their village. Maybe their own children met the ‚Äústranger‚ÄĚ who shared their classroom for a few weeks. Word of mouth, spread through the enthusiasm of host families, is a key factor in making the decision to apply.
Once they’ve submitted the application form, the family is contacted by our agents in France to discuss the Nacel homestay program. This first interview, conducted over the telephone, aims to explain the goal of the program and to ensure that the family understands their responsibilities. This screening process identifies the families who are ready to fulfill their role and provide the immersive experience that our participants are coming to enjoy.
The next step is to interview the whole family. This is carried out by Nacel representatives, local to the area, who will visit the home, collect information about each member in the household, including professions, interests and hobbies. An inventory is taken of living arrangements, pets and activities available in the home as well as the local area. One of the most important discussions is towards setting expectations: what to expect of the children and what they expect of the family in return. A full written report is handed back to the Nacel team who decides if the family‚Äôs living conditions and motivations are suitable for the program.
And once they’ve been approved, they wait for a match. In 2013, Nacel has over 700 families in the program who trust in our reputation established over 50 years.
In another country, a program applicant is also filling out a form, thinking objectively about what they enjoy doing. A graded response from ‘not at all’ to ‘very much’ identifies the measure of participation in each activity. There’s also the medical information: allergies, illness, vaccines, medication, everything a host family needs to keep their guest safe and healthy.
Students also write a personal letter to the host family in which applicants talk about themselves and choose photographs to showcase what’s important in their life. Their anticipation of the upcoming adventure is clear.
When the application is received, it immediately goes to regional representatives who review individual preferences and identify the families who fit the profile. The top criteria are finding families with children close in age and with similar interests.
Recently, an American mother sending her daughter to Spain on her first homestay, recounted her own youthful homestay experience with Nacel. She spoke of that moment when first introduced to her family, how nervous she was in those few moments waiting to find out who they were. On the way home, she compared her experience with the other participants. It turned out that they all felt the way she did; that ‚Äúher‚ÄĚ family was a perfect match and she couldn’t have wished for anyone else.