Host familes gone fishingHost familes baking in the kitchenHost familes happy host family


"This is one of the best experiences in America. There is a difference between friendships and family, and I needed a family here in America. You gave me a family. I am really grateful for this program." - Terry, Korea 2011

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Office of International Programs
and Development

5000 Abbey Way SE
Old Main Room 430
Lacey, WA 98503
Phone: 360-438-4504
Fax: 360-438-4359
Hours: M-F, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. PST

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Host Family Program

Welcome! Saint Martin’s Host Family Program matches international students with local residents for the purpose of cultural exchange and friendship. Let us connect you to the exciting and rewarding experience of a host family relationship.

"We enjoy the interaction with students and learning more about their culture and life. It is a great way to exchange ideas and customs. It is a privilege to help someone through the (challenges of) a new culture and environment. We gain much more than we give."

—The Koilpillai Family

Thank you for your interest in hosting one or more of our international students.

By hosting, you and your family have an opportunity to learn about a new culture, speak a new language, and extend your friendships internationally. Most importantly, you play an integral part in an international student's experience while in America. It can be life-changing!

Hosting opportunities

Home Away From Home Program (semester-long hosting)

The Home Away From Home Program provides a unique opportunity to cultivate an ongoing friendship with an international student(s) over the course of a semester or an academic year. This program is designed to work around your schedule -- invite your host student(s) to your home or other activities whenever you want.*

Saint Martin’s Office of International Programs will provide resources and ideas for activities to participate in with your host student. Your host student(s) will enjoy being included in your family activities or visiting your favorite places.

* Host families are encouraged to meet with their host student(s) monthly during the four-month semester period.

Summer Cultural Exchange Programs (weekend and extended stay hosting)

For over 30 years, Saint Martin's University has provided short-term summer cultural programs for students from our sister universities. As part of their experience at Saint Martin’s, the visiting student(s) spend a weekend with American host families to learn more about American family life and culture.

The homestay weekend generally begins on a Friday evening and ends on Sunday afternoon (40-48 hours). Families are asked to provide housing and meals for the student throughout the weekend. We encourage host families to include the visiting student(s) in their normal weekend activities. Occasionally there are students who need a homestay longer than a weekend (extended homestays). Stipends are sometimes available to families hosting more than two nights.

American Holiday Hosting Program

Holidays are perfect occasions to invite international students to spend time with you and your family. International students value the friendship you extend to them and appreciate the opportunity to learn about American customs and traditions.

The American Holiday Hosting Program can be as simple as inviting a student(s) to enjoy a meal at your home or spending a day with your family. Common hosting holidays include President’s Day Weekend, Spring Break, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Become a host family

We offer a variety of opportunities for host families to get involved with our international students.

  1. Complete the Become a Host Family online application. Our offices will contact you within 72 hours to schedule a home visit and discuss any questions you may have.
  2. Complete a home visit and background check.
  3. You will receive a short profile of your student(s) prior to hosting.
  4. We will arrange a meeting between you and your student(s).

Note: All Saint Martin host family programs are non-residential programs. Students live in on-campus housing and connect with a host family primarily for the purpose of friendship and cross-cultural exchange.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to have a family in order to host?

Not at all. Singles, couples, or families can all offer different or unique opportunities for international students to learn and experience American culture.

What do I do with my host student?

International students are here to experience American culture. Host families are not expected to go on continuous sight-seeing trips and entertain the students, but rather include the student in normal weekend routines like: baking cookies, shopping, soccer games, cookouts, knitting, hiking, etc. Not everything needs to be perfect and put together to be a host family. Be yourself, get to know them, and have fun.

Is there any monetary compensation?

For most of our host family programs there is no monetary compensation. For extended stays, some compensation may be available. The goal of our host family programs is to provide a mutual learning experience for our international students and their host family. Out of a heart of goodwill and hospitality, we are asking host families to share their lives without compensation. Students do have their own spending money and can use it for certain activities if needed.

Do they speak English?

Yes, however the students’ English skills vary. The students participating in the host family program are expected to practice and improve their language skills while with their families. As a host family, you have an active part in helping them with those skills in a very practical way.

Can I host if we have pets?

Yes! Pets are a great connection for internationals. Pets are part of your family, so they help in hosting as well. There are some students that have allergies or a fear of pets, so we will take the necessary precautions with those students and place them with families without pets.

Find a host family

Thank you for your interest in having an American host family while at Saint Martin's. Having an American host family has many advantages but most it's an opportunity to develop a lasting friendship. Many students share that it's one of the best experiences they have while in America.

Note: Our international programs department does not provide services for you to rent a room or live with a host family.

To be paired with a host family, submit the student application. The application helps us match you with a host family. It will let us know more about you and your interests. Your host family looks forward to meeting you and learning more about your country and culture. Our offices will contact you within two weeks with more information about your host family.

Complete the Find a Host Family online application and find your host family today!