F.A.Q. – Summer Hosting

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions most often asked by families that are thinking about hosting a student through one of the Wisconsin 4-H Summer International Programs.  Hopefully they can help you decide whether hosting is for your family!  Of course, if you have any questions of your own, please contact us at 608-262-2491 or email wi4hinternational@extension.wisc.edu

Q. Where are the kids from? Can you choose where from?

A. The delegates are from Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Taiwan. Yes, you can choose the student you’d like to host, and the sooner you apply, the more there are to choose from.  If you have questions about delegate availability, please contact us.


Q. I don’t speak any of those languages; is that a problem?

A. All of the delegates understand and speak English to some extent, some better than others, depending on how long they’ve studied English and their willingness to be adventurous with their skills. Most of them begin studying English by 6th grade, if not earlier. Even if their English isn’t perfect, 4-H youth and delegates find all sorts of ways to communicate through games, music, dance, sports, play, teaching each other, and laughing together. One of the purposes of the program is to learn to communicate and feel comfortable with those whose first language isn’t English. (Parents: don’t worry, the groups are accompanied by Adult Advisors who support and help them and us in case of illness or emergency!)


Q. How old are the delegates?

A. The youth are ages 12 – 18.  Your family can also choose to host an Adult Advisor (chaperone) for half of the homestay (2 weeks).  We ask that host siblings be within about 2 years of the age of their delegate.  Apply early for better choices and matches of personality and age.


Q. Are they male or female?

A. Both!  Contact us to find out about the availability of specific delegates.  If your family is interested in hosting a particular youth, please call me immediately and we’ll place a “tentative hold” on that delegate so we don’t inadvertently assign him or her to someone else while you complete your application and we process it.


Q. What are the dates? How long do they stay?

A. The delegates stay in Wisconsin with one host family for about 4 weeks (Adult Advisors split the time between two host families). Dates vary by country. Please contact us for specifics.  Involved families will receive detailed schedules and itineraries for arrival and departure.


Q. We are a very busy bunch! Is this a problem for some families?

A. Busy is good! Imagine if you were staying with a family in another country – you’d expect to be kept busy so you could learn about everything! It would all be exciting!


Q. What are the requirements for hosting?

A. Host youth must be of same gender and within two years or so of the same age; minimum age for hosting is 10; only one youth can be assigned per family; they must have their own bed but can share a room with host sibling; and the primary home must be in Wisconsin. Interested applicants complete an application, forward a photo with the application for their delegate, obtain two non-family references and their county 4-H Educator’s recommendation, complete an in-home interview, and those over 18 must complete Youth Protection if they aren’t currently registered as volunteers.


Q. What is the commitment required?

A. Families must have an interest in other cultures and working with young people; they are expected to provide a separate sleeping space and board. Delegates come with their own spending money and insurance. Pick up and drop off is in Madison but there are usually opportunities for families to join together and car pool to save time and gas.  There is no fee to host.


Q. Are there organized trips and events planned for them by their organization or the state?

A. Only for the Japan/Korea group: County 4-H Coordinators work with families to reach consensus on a date/time/place for one Midpoint Meeting in a central location so hosts don’t have to drive too far. This affords an opportunity to network with 4-H staff or volunteer Coordinators and the youth Adult Advisors. This meeting is usually a potluck at a park or event on a weekday evening which allows families to plan their own fun on weekends.


Q. Do you need to have a current 4-H’er in your household?

A. No, however all who are over 18 in the home must complete the Wisconsin 4-H Youth Protection program. Just as we would expect 4-H to ensure a host in another country offers our youth a safe home environment, we need to assure our foreign visitors the same.


Q. What organization are they involved with? (Are there foreign versions of 4-H?)

A. The Mexico, Japan and South Korea delegates are from the cultural clubs of Labo (name derived from “language laboratory”) and from LEX (Institute for Language Experience, Experiment, and Exchange). Yes, there are other versions of 4-H around the world – we exchange with Costa Rica 4-S and Taiwan 4-H.


Q. How do I apply?

A. You can get started on our new online Host Family Application here.  You’ll also need to have two community members complete reference forms and have your county 4-H Youth Educator (Agent) complete a recommendation form.  Finally, you’ll need an in-home interview from one of our International Programs County Coordinators.  Contact us, and we’ll help you complete this.  All forms are available on our Host Application/Forms page.


Q. How are delegate/host family matches made?

A.  Delegates are matched to host families based on similarities in interests, personality, and disposition. Delegates for the summer program are within 2 years of age of their host siblings. If a delegate requests a specific Wisconsin host family (most often as part of a reciprocal exchange), WI 4-H tries to accommodate the request.  WI 4-H collaborates with host families in order to make the best placement possible.  In most cases, we’ll call you with to discuss a few delegates we think are a good match based on applications and allow you to choose.


Q. What are the requirements for hosting?

A.  Besides being enthusiastic about their international visitor, here are the hosting requirements:

  • Host families must live in Wisconsin
  • Host families must have a son or daughter between the ages of 10 and 18 for the summer exchanges
  • Host families must provide a separate bed, but not necessarily a separate room for the exchange student
  • Everyone over 18 in the household at the time of the exchange must participate in Wisconsin 4-H Youth Protection (contact your county 4-H Youth Educator/Agent about this)
  • Host families must complete the full application process, which includes the Online Application, 2 references from community members, a recommendation from the family’s county 4-H agent/educator (or community leader for non-4-H families), and Youth Protection certification in the family’s county 4-H program.  All paperwork is available here, and references and recommendations can be emailed to wi4hinternational@extension.wisc.edu


Q. When are applications due?

A.  All applications are due to the State 4-H Office by February 1st for those wishing to participate in a program the following summer, however applications are accepted until all students are placed. If you are unsure about whether your application will still be accepted, please contact WI 4-H International programs at 608-262-2491 or wi4hinternational@extension.wisc.edu.