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Host Program for International Students

Harvard Campus ImageSince 1962 the Host Program has provided an opportunity for friendship to occur between Harvard international graduate students who have never lived in the United States and residents who live in the Boston area. Residents in turn benefit from exposure to the wealth of cultures that come from around the world to study here at Harvard. We invite prospective students and hosts to visit this site to get a better idea of what the expectations are of the Host Program. There are also school specific programs throughout Harvard that students may qualify for, check directly with your individual school to see if your school has a program.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Who are the students participating in the program?
Priority is given to students who have never lived in the United States before. The overall goal is to match all international students who apply.

How does a student apply?
International Students get the application form in their admissions packet with a brochure for the Host Program. The brochure gives students details as to how to apply on-line to the program.

How long does it take to be matched?
Most applications are received by the end of May. Hosts are contacted to choose students. This may take time depending on when applications are received, the host's interests and their vacation schedules. The time that we spend communicating with the hosts will increase the chance for a successful match.

Are hosts paid?
No, their participation in this program is purely voluntary. Their goal is to be helpful in a friendly and supportive way.

What do hosts do?
Hosts help students in many different ways. Some may meet students upon arrival at the airport. Some may assist with both the overwhelming and exciting process of settling in and becoming acclimated to new surroundings. While hosts do not provide housing, they may offer occasional meals, interesting outings, stimulating conversations, encouraging words, or holiday celebrations. To further enrich the exchange, students may invite their hosts to university events, to go out for walks, to prepare a dish from their country, etc. In addition the Host program organizes a few informal events during the year where hosts and students can come together.

Who are the hosts?
Hosts are Boston area residents who reflect America's diverse society. They live in local communities and come from many ethnic, socio-economic and religious backgrounds. They vary in age and may be single, couples, or families with children.

What makes a match successful?
Each student-host pairing is unique. It is the students and their hosts who share the building blocks for a mutually rewarding friendship. Such friendship can enormously enrich life outside the classroom. They may, in fact, last years beyond the student's study time at Harvard!

How much time is required of hosts?
Of the time spent during the whole year most of it will be spent at the beginning of the student's stay. As the year progresses the gaps between communications tend to get bigger. It is critical to pay attention to the needs of students in the beginning because it is when the foundation is being established for the relationship.

Can a host have more than one student?
Yes! We usually have a supply and demand issue. Some hosts have found that hosting two students is actually easier. If they are from different countries lively conversations can occur when comparing experiences..

What are the financial expectations of hosting?
Although Americans tend to be uncomfortable talking about money the issue should be discussed between hosts and students. Assumptions can lead to feelings of hurt and embarrassment for both parties.

What do hosts do with students?
The interesting thing about having an international visitor is that it makes one look at one's community from a different perspective. Through conversations hosts can find out what their students are interested in. There is more to the students than what appeared in their applications. Hosts may discover some interesting and surprising activities that the students enjoy doing back home and would like to continue here in the United States. This information generates related activities to suggest to students. Sometimes hosts discover things that they weren't aware of right in their own back yards.

Since the hosting obligation is for one year, how do hosts handle students who are here for a longer period?
Students are aware that the program is for one year. If a fast friendship develops that is great. The coordinator of the Host Program, however, will be hoping that hosts are still available to host a new student for the coming academic year. Experience has shown that during the second year that no matter how strong the friendship the meetings are much fewer. Sometimes the hosts will bring their former student along to help from time to time with a new student.


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