News for Homestay Staff Across North America / July 2020
Lots of togetherness /
Agreements webinar is Friday

I hope you are doing well during these challenging times. In some ways, the next few months will carry the greatest uncertainty. During the lockdown, it was clear - stay home and stay safe. Now, as international education programs and most of the economy begin to reopen, everything is more ambiguous.

This applies to homestay programs as well. Hosts, students and homestay staff are all trying to navigate the unknown. In this issue of the Homestay Times, we consider how to support hosts and students when they are together 24/7. Special thanks to Nami Bagirimvano of Tacoma Community College and Karlee Heath of Whatcom Community College for their contributions.

Here at ESQ Educational Services, we are doing our part by presenting our webinar series on reopening. The next session is of critical importance - how to manage risk with solid agreements with students, parents, homestay hosts and other key players.

The webinar on Agreements is being held this Friday at 1 pm Eastern. Please see below for details. This is the only time this session is being offered this year so don't miss out!

As always, please get in touch if you have any questions. Stay safe!

(613) 888-9560     

This week's webinar:
Reduce risk with solid agreements

The pandemic has heightened the importance of clearly communicated and understood agreements for students, host families, parents, employees and other stakeholders. The risks are high and it's essential that everyone is aware of their rights and responsibilities. The session will consider the proper use of a "force majeure" clause to excuse parties from liability when unexpected extraordinary events (such as a pandemic) occur. It will also review the critical four components of any such agreements: Informed Consent, Permission, Release of Liability, and Indemnity. 

Cost is just $49 plus tax. 

Date: Friday, July 17 at 1 pm Eastern (10 am Pacific)

Next webinar:
Tuesday, August 18 at 1 pm Eastern (10 am Pacific)

Helping hosts, students cope
with being together 24/7

With both hosts and students spending a lot more time at home during the pandemic, everyone needs to make a greater effort to ensure good relations. Here are some tips to help people cope during this challenging time:

  • Encourage students to find regular activities. While there may be restrictions on what they can do, hosts can help them choose something suitable. This could include exercise such as walks or bike rides.

  • Ask students to maintain a reasonable schedule. Without classes to attend, some students have reverted to their home country's timelines, sometimes staying up late at night to talk with friends and family. This can be disruptive to the host, especially if they can hear the student talking in the middle of the night. One host made a "house rule" that their student needed to get out of bed by noon.

  • Hosts should meet with their student to discuss boundaries and rules. Spending so much time together is new for everyone so it's important to make sure expectations are clear.

  • Homestay staff should be prepared to listen. The pandemic is a stressful time and everyone is prone to anxiety. Be flexible about responding to concerns in a timely way.

  • Remind the students that they are guests in the home and that they must follow the family's rules around social distancing and wearing of masks. It can be very awkward if students are out socializing while the hosts are trying to minimize the number of contacts.

  • Check in regularly with hosts and students. You can hold a Zoom session with both hosts and students. Or you can call everyone on a monthly basis.

  • Be sure to keep hosts updated about what's happening with your program. Hosts appreciate knowing whether classes will be online, what services are available and how international students can be supported. A regular newsletter or email to all hosts can go a long way in keeping the lines of communication open.

  • Students with mental health challenges may need extra care due to isolation, stress or anxiety about the state of the world. Be sure that all students are aware of what support services are available.