Homestay Parents & Families
Last updated: March 30, 2020
Thank you for opening your homes to our students during a most critical time in our modern history. We are grateful for your willingness to share your compassion and your homes with students who have been displaced by conditions brought about by the coronavirus.
Denison is committed to supporting you as best we can during the homestay. A local homestay support network is in place to provide guidance and assistance, if needed, over the coming weeks. You will be provided with a specific Denison contact for questions, help, resources and for general check-ins regarding the homestay. Please email email@example.com with your questions and concerns.
At this time we are asking homestay families to commit to hosting a student(s) until the end of the semester (8-weeks). Some students may already have travel plans and therefore need housing for a shorter period of time, and some students may determine that going home earlier is in their best interest and may leave before the end of the semester.
Host Family Responsibilities:
Expectations: The expectation for host families is that they will provide a safe living environment and take care of the student’s basic living needs during the homestay. This includes providing food and necessary transportation (e.g. to appointments, to get other supplies, etc.)
Friendly Check-ins: Hosts should anticipate a friendly check-in call from a member of our Homestay team in the coming weeks.
Financial Issues: Students should have financial means to address their own health care and their own personal needs aside from those discussed above and will know whom to contact at Denison if they require assistance.
If this isn’t working: In the event that the homestay creates an unworkable living situation for you and your family, or for the student(s), Denison will work to remedy the situation by finding an alternate host family. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cultural & Communication Considerations
As we all know, cultures have a myriad of communication styles.
For example, when students encounter difficulties with hosts, they may be afraid of embarrassing their host by raising their concerns. Students may be fearful that they will not be able to maintain a smooth relationship with a host family once an issue has been discussed openly. This lack of communication may be frustrating for hosts since they cannot fix problems of which they are not aware.
As hosts, we ask you to be aware of this kind of misunderstanding. Engaging your students is the best fix. It can be something as simple as food. If your students do not like the food eaten in your homes, they may not say so. It will be helpful if you ask your students which foods they prefer.
As hosts integrate their students into their daily lives, they will want to be aware of and show patience for communication difficulties. Behavior that could appear to be rude may be frustration due to language barriers, culture shock, or simply a “failure to communicate.” Be empathetic and show your student you want to understand.
As you and your international students begin your relationship, it is important to keep in mind that they are entering a brand new culture with nuances that may not be immediately evident at their young ages. Understanding the differences between our culture and theirs makes that transition easier on your visiting students, on your families, and on you!
Conversation: Find non-judgmental and universal conversation topics, such as family or sports. Stay away from any subject that could instill conflict. In some cultures, people will do anything to avoid conflict in conversation.
Manners: Please don’t expect your student to say “thank you” as often as you have taught your own children to say it. “Excuse me” – another phrase Americans are taught from childhood — may not be used as often, so try not to infer that your student is rude as a result.
Discipline: When there’s a problem, being direct with your student could backfire and result in a less meaningful relationship between student and host. Try to be diplomatic and tactful when possible, while still exercising parental authority. If the issue/topic is important, consider writing down the guidance/expectation together to confirm there is a shared understanding.
Language: Your student/s will speak English, but may be shy about their speaking ability. Some students find they are more comfortable and can communicate more effectively using a language translator available on many devices. A translator may also be helpful for your household members – not only to better understand your visiting students, but also to learn their native language/s.
Getting to know other people in a shared living environment can raise many questions. Set clear expectations for your home environment:
- Safety: What safety equipment (e.g., fire protection, first aid) is in the space? Should spaces be kept locked, and when? Please note that students remain subject to the Denison Code of Student Conduct, which strictly prohibits drug possession and use and use of alcohol while under the legal age.
- Noise: Are there specific quiet times? When should the lights be kept off or low?
- Meals/Use of kitchen: Should the dishes be washed or placed in the dishwasher after use? Any food off limits (i.e., allergies, special diet, etc)
- Household chores/Cleanliness: How clean and orderly should the space be kept? What are the practices for laundry, waste disposal, and other household tasks?
- Personal hygiene: Expectations for hygiene and self-care. Students may wonder if it is ok to shower daily - ie. conscious of their use of your resources. It may be helpful to assure them that they are welcome to shower whenever they like.
Denison students are full-time students, so they will be engaged in remote learning and studying for a significant amount of time.
Students may have different study habits. They may study in seclusion or prefer to be with others in the home. They may stay up late at night and sleep in some days.
Adapted from CDC.gov
Student Wellness Information
Our guiding principle is to protect the health of our campus community, including the student(s) in your home.
Health Resources for Students
Students are regularly receiving updates from the Denison University Wellness Center about accessing mental and medical health services. While the Wellness Center is unable to provide face-to-face appointments, they are available to work with students remotely.
To connect with practitioners, students should call the Wellness Center at 740-587-6200 between 7:00 AM and 11:00 PM. When appropriate the Wellness Center will provide TeleHealth services to homestay students.
Most international students have insurance through Denison University which is accepted by most providers in the area. Students have access to their insurance information and can share that with the host family. If a student is going to visit a host family’s practitioners, we suggest calling the office in advance to verify they will accept the insurance. Host families are asked to help get students to appointments. Travel to such appointments is allowed under the Stay-at-Home order. If there is a concern about transportation, please let us know at email@example.com.
Denison has established a system for members of our campus community to report COVID-19 symptoms and seek guidance on next steps to protect others. Students may communicate with our medical staff at 740-587-6200, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Individuals will speak with trained staff who help them assess their potential exposure to others. We will then proactively advise any potentially exposed people to self-quarantine while monitoring for symptoms.
What does this mean for homestays? If homestay students are not notified by campus, then they likely do not have any prior contact with any individual known by Denison to be experiencing symptoms.
Like all of us, students should be isolating and cautious if they experience symptoms and they should report symptoms to the Wellness Center by calling 740-587-6200 to talk with a staff member. It has been more than ten days since our students were in classes. We believe their potential for exposure is not at a risk level above the general population, and quite likely less.
Frequently Asked Questions
Students should call the Wellness Center at 740-587-6200 between 7:00 AM and 11:00 PM. In case of a medical emergency, students and hosts are encouraged to call 9-1-1. For non-emergency consultations after Wellness Center phone service hours close, we will maintain Campus Safety dispatcher operations at 740-587-0810. See above for more.
Denison has established a system for members of our campus community to report COVID-19 symptoms and seek guidance on next steps to protect others. Students may communicate with our medical staff at 740-587-6200. Individuals will speak with trained staff who help them assess their potential exposure to others. We will then proactively advise any potentially exposed people to self-quarantine while monitoring for symptoms. See above for more.