It’s been quite an adventure for your homestay student and your family, but it’s now coming to an end. It’s your responsibility to prepare your student for returning home and prepare a farewell to commemorate their time with your family.
Here are some tips for preparing a proper send-off for your homestay student.
Pack early, but not too early!
Your homestay student accumulated lots of stuff during their time with your family. Have them slowly start deciding what they’ll be bringing home and what will be left behind.
They likely came with only one or two suitcases, so everything needs to fit in there. Here are some options to help them organize their belongings:
- Is it something that can be mailed or shipped home?
- Is it something they don’t need but could donate (or sell) before they leave?
- Is it something they can take a picture of (for the memories) and leave behind?
- Is it something they need/want to bring home with them?
If you provided them with any amenities, let them know which are theirs to keep and which need to stay for the next student.
Prepare them (emotionally) for returning home
Do you remember when your student first arrived, and it took a little time for them to adjust to life in your home? When they return to their home and family at the end of their stay with you, they may experience reverse culture shock.
They likely got used to your way of living, so upon returning home, they will have to readjust to living with their own family and in their own country again. This could be an emotional journey for them. Discuss it with them so they are prepared.
Remind them that returning to their routines and cultural norms may take some time, but it’s an excellent opportunity to share Canadian culture with their friends and family.
Have a party
Your student may enjoy a small send-off party with their Canadian family and friends. Ask your student what they’d like to do. They may want to do an activity (like go-karting or laser tag) or just a low-key BBQ at home with their host family and close friends.
It doesn’t have to be anything large or extravagant. Don’t go beyond your means, but do what you can to plan a celebration party to show your student how much you appreciate their time with your family.
Have a private celebration too
Consider doing something more intimate with just your immediate family and your homestay student. Ask them what their favourite Canadian foods are and order in or make these for their last evening in your home.
We suggest doing your celebrations and parties a few days before they leave. You may want to save that last evening for packing and final goodbyes.
Give them a send-off gift
This is by no means a requirement, but your homestay student might appreciate a small gift to commemorate their time with you. If you gave them a small welcome gift of something uniquely Canadian, make their send-off gift something more personal. Here are some ideas:
- Print and frame a picture of them during their stay.
- If they showed a keen interest in learning Canadian cooking, give them a small cookbook.
- If they have some favourite Canadian snacks, make them a care package for the plane.
Prepare for emotions
Your homestay student has been staying with your family for several months. Leaving can be emotional for the student and your family. Your own kids may have grown close with the student, so leaving may be emotional for them too. As part of preparing for your homestay student send-off, be mindful of your emotions during this time too.
If you have younger children in your family, they may react the strongest. Prepare them early that the student will be leaving (so they don’t just wake up one day and the student is gone). Ask your homestay student if they’d be ok with staying in touch with you and your family over video chats or as pen pals.
Exchange contact information
If your homestay student is ok with staying in touch, exchange contact information. Maybe you want to do a weekly video chat or a touch base shortly after they arrive home. Doing a video call after they arrive home might be a fun opportunity to meet their family (if you haven’t already). You can share stories about their time with your family with the student.
An airport goodbye
Your final send-off will be driving your student to the airport and seeing them off. Splurge and pay for parking so you can walk your student inside and make sure they get checked in without any problems. Be prepared for a tearful goodbye. If you’re giving them a care package for the plane, this can be an excellent time to present them with your gift.
Reflect and reset
Opening your home to a homestay student is a special experience for your family and the student. When your student goes home, it may take time to adjust to them not being there anymore. Take a moment to reflect on the experience. If you’ll be welcoming another homestay student, take your learnings from this experience and apply them to your next student.
Clean your student’s room after they leave, wash the linens, and reset it for your next student so they can experience the same warm welcome your last homestay student got.
If your family is ready to welcome a homestay student into your home, contact us today to learn about accepting a student from Harmony Homestay. We’ve got students ready to experience life in Canada with you. Apply to be a host today!