“Anyone who stays in our house is family”

Article sourced from StudyAdelaide

More than 100 international students have been welcomed into local Adelaide woman, Suzanne’s family over the past 15 years.

Suzanne is a long term homestay host for the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD), providing a warm welcome, support and a home away from home for international students studying in South Australian government schools.

Homestay is a simple concept. International students coming to Adelaide live with a local family while they study, offering students a close support network while they experience the Australian lifestyle firsthand and immerse themselves in Australian culture.

‘We started out because we love kids,’ says Suzanne. ‘Since we started, we’ve probably hosted over 100 students.’

Usually Suzanne’s family host one or two international students at a time but at one stage they had five students with them. This is even more impressive when we consider that Suzanne also has five of her own children at home, which makes for a big crowd at the dinner table. ‘Dinner time is always interesting, as we all eat together,’ she says.

For the students, homestay is a chance for them to experience a new culture and make lifelong friends.  Many of the students who have stayed with the family still keep in contact with their hosts, as well as with the other students who were staying with Suzanne at the same time.

‘We mainly have school students who we get through our local high school. Anyone who stays in our house is family.  Now I have family all over the world.’

Although Suzanne has been doing Homestay for over 15 years, it still doesn’t make meeting students for the first time any easier.  ‘I still get nervous when I’m meeting them for the first time,’ she says.

Homestay also gives students the chance to improve their English speaking skills.

Along with studying and making new friends, students get to participate in activities with their local family.  Recently Suzanne and her family attended the final Port Adelaide game at AAMI Stadium against Carlton.  ‘For me part of the joy of homestay comes from watching them experience new things, like the first time they see the ocean’.  Or in this case a thrilling game of Australian Rules football.

The Port Adelaide Football Club generously provided the tickets to the game for students and their homestay families, as part of their ongoing support of international students.

And the international students aren’t the only ones who get something out of Homestay. ‘My kids can live with anybody now’ said Suzanne, adding her children have learnt ‘it doesn’t matter where you come from, everyone is the same.’

The majority of students who stay with the family are either Chinese or Japanese, though they do get the occasional European student staying with them.

‘I just love it.  We’ll be doing it for as long as we can,’ Suzanne says.

For more information about being a homestay with South Australian Government Schools, visit the Host a Student page on our website.

Stuck for ideas of what to do in the school holidays? Check out our What are you doing these school holidays? post for lots of ideas!

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