Thank you for your interest in hosting international guests with GlobalPittsburgh!

GlobalPittsburgh is a non-profit organization that started out in 1959 as the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors (PCIV). Our mission is to forge cultural, educational, and business relationships between the Greater Pittsburgh Region and the global community through citizen diplomacy. As a member of the Washington, DC-based Global Ties U.S. (formerly National Council of International Visitors) we are the U.S. State Department’s designated regional service provider for the International Visitor Leadership Program and other government-sponsored international exchange programs.

Every year thousands of Americans share their version of America with international visitors. Students, scholars, researchers, and professionals from all over the world come to Pittsburgh to learn and share their knowledge and experience. Over 500 local families have provided home hospitality for the programs arranged by our organization. Just in 2018, nearly 50 new host families joined our program; 85 homestays totaling over 6,170 nights were arranged by our organization. Our homestays have been described as “deeply enriching” and “extraordinary” by participating families who have experienced the powerful impact of direct engagement with international visitors.

Our visitors come from all around the world providing opportunities for learning for the guests and for the host family. This unforgettable experience creates a lifetime of memories to everyone involved! When you become a host, you open yourself to a cultural exchange where you can learn about different countries, cultures, and languages firsthand. You develop cultural sensitivity, understanding, and a greater appreciation for the world we live in. Not only do you gain a greater perspective, but acting as an ambassador for your local community, you shape how the international visitors view your way of life and further act as a representation of the United States and its citizens to the world. 

This guidebook will provide an overview of the requirements and expectations involved in being a host family in order to discern if you will be a suitable applicant. Further inquiries can be directed to Nadya Kessler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Homestay Programs Offered by GlobalPittsburgh

GlobalPittsburgh arranges homestays for international students, professors and other newcomers, including professionals. Here is a basic overview of the most popular programs that we work with.

A. Yasuda University’s Study Abroad for Yasuda Students (STAYS)

Yasuda Women’s University, College and Graduate School (formerly known as Hiroshima Practical Girls’ School) was established in 1915. Study Abroad for Yasuda Students aims to improve English language skills, understanding of the American (or Canadian) culture and society through classes and volunteer activities. This program is designed for the second year English Department students majoring in the English language. The program is mandatory for the students who have opportunity to choose their destination between the University of California, Davis (USA), the University of Pittsburgh, English Language Institute, Pittsburgh (USA), and the University of British Columbia (Canada).

The program for the Yasuda students takes place between the end of August and the end of January, annually. We work closely with the University of Pittsburgh, English Language Institute (ELI) that implements the education part of the program and sets the schedule of classes and some of the activities for the students, for example, the “Coming-of-Age” ceremony, in January. 

The students, usually a group of 40-45, stay with local host families. Each year, around June, we receive homestay application from the students and start matching them with the interested host families. We use people’s interests, food or pet allergies, among other factors, to determine the best possible placement. A few weeks before the arrival date, we send the hosts information about their guest and encourage them to connect with one another for a conversation via email or video chat.   

B. Korea National University of Education’s Intensive English Teacher Training Program (KNUE)

The Korea National University of Education was established in 1984 with the focus on pre- and in-service teacher training and educational research. Their International Exchange Program aims to train international teachers and equip them with an expansive international perspective. Since 2003, the program has been conducting exchanges in 35 countries, including the United States, India, and Latin America. 

The KNUE Intensive English Teacher Training Program (IETTP) is a 4-week program that is run through the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Pittsburgh and takes place twice a year.

C. Individual Requests

We work with the individuals who are visiting Pittsburgh as fellows, scholars, medical observers, international exchange students, interns, apprentices, or in other roles. We work with many colleges, universities, hospitals, and organizations of different types that invite (sponsor) these individuals to the U.S. and to Pittsburgh. The duration of their stay differs from a few days to a few months. Our programs focus on college-age students. Typically, we do not work with high school students.

Host Family Application Process

To start hosting international visitors, a candidate will submit a new host family application form. The form can be found on our website at www.globalpittsburgh.org/become-a-host-family. After we receive your form, Nadya Kessler will send you a confirmation of the receipt and if any clarification is needed she will ask you for additional information.

The next step is a home visit. Ideally, during a home visit, we would like to meet all members of your family. However, we understand if it is not possible due to work and school schedules of the family members. It is important that the person who will be the main communication contact is present. The home visit will last between 30 minutes and 1 hour. During the home visit, a GlobalPittsburgh staff member, currently - Nadya Kessler, should be given a tour of the house, including common areas, guest bedroom(s), shared facilities, such as laundry room, shared bathrooms, back/front yard, etc. You do not have to show your bedroom and bathroom.

During the home visit, you will be given an overview of our homestay programs and ask any questions you might have. Because our goal is to meet the needs of the international visitors and at the same time to fulfill hosts’ expectation, our matching process is done carefully and individually. We always take into consideration people’s interests, views, and habits on top of any medical or dietary restrictions. 

Room Requirements

All guests must be provided with a private bedroom unless otherwise requested. Some programs allow the students of the same sex to share a room. The guests will never share a bed unless they are spouses. Guests of the opposite sex (except for spouses and siblings) will not be placed with the same host family without prior agreement. Female guests will not be placed with a host family headed by a single male. The placement of young female guests in homes with a teenage son or young single male adult is a rare occurrence and must be approved by both sides. 

The guest’s bedroom must include a minimum of the following: room furnished with a bed, dresser or closet, nightstand, sufficient lighting, cooling and heating, desk (optional). While a desk and chair placed in the guest’s bedroom provide a quiet study area, these are not required to be in the guest’s bedroom if the guest can find another area in the house for studying. Clean bed linens, blankets, and a pillowcase must also be provided for the guest. Upon guest’s arrival, a tour of the house is expected including locations and instructions on how to use the appliances, washer/ dryers, coffee maker, hairdryer, oven, etc.

The bathroom may be a private or shared facility. If many family members are using a shared bathroom, it may be a good idea to post a schedule of showers/baths, etc. Clean towels must be initially provided for the guest. 

Daily Interaction

The goal of a homestay is to provide an interesting cultural and educational experience for both the guest and the host family. The more interaction between the host family and the guest, the more enriching the stay will be for both. Therefore, as a host, you will be expected to be able to dedicate time to spend with your guest to ensure that you both have an impactful experience. The guest should feel like they are able to engage in your daily activities with you, becoming a part of each other’s lives. If you do not have time to commit to spending meaningful time with the visitor, then you might not be suitable for a host.

The guest should also be provided warm and inviting access to all common areas of the home (kitchen, living room, family room, etc.) Guests should be encouraged to spend time daily in the common areas with the family and the guests should feel welcome to join on family activities.

The host family must be respectful of the cultural and religious beliefs of the guest as must be the guest. Host families may certainly invite the guest to attend church or other religious services, and the guest may accept for politeness or curiosity reasons. However, if the guest chooses not to go, the host family must accept this as well.

Meals

Depending on the program, the guest will be expecting shared meals with the family, or they will be responsible for their own meals. For example, Yasuda and KNUE students expect 3 meals a day, including a help yourself style breakfast, a packable lunch, and a dinner. Some other programs offer only breakfast and dinner while some students (or hosts) prefer to take care of their own meals on their own schedule.

Breakfast: The breakfasts can be self-served if that is what your family’s breakfast routine is. The host family should show the guest around the kitchen, letting the guest know where cooking utensils and breakfast foods are kept. The host may inquire what breakfast foods their guest likes to eat and have them available. 

Dinner: Most nights, the host family will prepare the meals and eat with the guests. Meals should be nourishing and the menus should be varied. On evenings when the host family will not be able to sit down to a meal, the guest must be provided with a prepared meal or foods and careful instructions on how to prepare or reheat it. 

Lunch: Depending on the program which will be communicated upon request of the homestay, your guest may need to be offered to pack their lunch for the next day. It is the guest’s responsibility to pack it. Suggestions are leftovers from the night before, sandwich/wraps, fruit, etc.

Guests will be expected to respect the host family’s conditions for access to their refrigerator, pantry and other areas containing food items. In return, the host family will be expected to protect all personal food items and other consumables purchased by the guest and stored in the host family’s refrigerator or pantry. We suggest that you empty a shelf or area in your pantry and refrigerator for the student to store their foods.

Incompatibility

For the whole duration of the homestay, Nadya Kessler will be available for any homestay-related concerns, issues, misunderstanding, or miscommunication. They do not happen often but when they do, we encourage the host family and their guest to first try to discuss any issues between themselves and if not possible, to reach out to Nadya. We are here to facilitate the experience and make it pleasant for both parties.

If it is not possible to resolve the situation by communications and either the host family member or the guest feel unhappy, host families have the right to request that a guest be moved from their home if sufficient cause for the removal is communicated. If a guest provides sufficient information regarding concerns about the assigned host family, the guest also has the right to request and receive placement with a different host family. 

Compensation

Our fee structure is transparent for both students and hosts. Guests or their sponsoring programs pay all fees, including host family compensation, directly to GlobalPittsburgh. The host family will never collect fees directly from guests. The host family must not discuss fees they receive for hosting directly. 

Compensation for a homestay is to be paid one week before the guest arrives in Pittsburgh and/or to his host family and at the beginning of each consecutive month of the homestay. GlobalPittsburgh guarantees timely payments to the host families on behalf of the guests.

GlobalPittsburgh provides all the payments in the form of a check made to the host’s name provided in the W-9 form at or after the home visit.

It is important to note that the placement of a guest is not a guarantee of income nor should the intent behind hosting be strictly for monetary gain. The guest may fail to obtain a visa or to arrive as expected, cancel their commitment, or change their housing request at the last minute. In such event, there will be no obligation to pay the host family. Compensation only applies to the number of days that the guest spent at the host’s home.

Payment Samples:

• Compensation for 1 month without meals - $500

• Compensation for 1 month with breakfast and dinner - $660

• Compensation for 1 month with breakfast and dinner and packed from home lunch - $750

Additional Information

A. Laundry

  • If the home has laundry facilities, the guest needs to have access to them. If the home does not have laundry facilities, the Host Family must arrange for the guest to be able to accompany them when doing the family laundry. 
  • Generally, it is the guest’s responsibility to wash and dry his/her personal laundry. Some host families may prefer to wash the guest’s clothes, towels, and linens with those of the family. Please discuss your laundry procedures with your guest.

B. House rules / Keys

  • The host family must discuss the house rules at the beginning of the homestay with the guest. Sample house rules can be found here.
  • It is recommended that the guest be given a house key during their stay with the host family. Please make sure that you show your guest how to use the key and open and lock the door and that they practice in your presence.

C. Communication

English must be the first language in the household. Patience is required with the guest while communicating as English may not be their first language. Open communication is the key to successful homestay experiences.

D. Transportation

  • The host family will have no responsibilities to provide transportation for the guest’s daily routine. You will not be required to pick the guest up or drop him off at the airport unless you are available and willing to do so. 
  • The guests are responsible for discovering the transportation options in the city on their own, however, pointing them in the right direction such as showing them riding apps and the local bus stop is encouraged. You may advise on where they can obtain a bus pass unless their student’s ID gives them free public transportation rides.

E. Insurance

  • All guests have medical and hospitalization insurance. It is always a good idea to ask your guest to provide you with copies of his/her medical insurance information in case of emergencies.
  • If your guest becomes ill, please contact Nadya.

F. Vacations/Weekend Getaways

  • The host family may take vacations or weekend trips and it is encouraged to invite the guest if possible. If the guest will be responsible for any expenses, it is very important that these expenses be discussed beforehand. 
  • If the host family will be away from home for more than three nights at a time, please let the homestay coordinator know. This must be discussed before the guest arrives or as soon as possible. Arrangements will then be made should the guest need to be moved to another home temporarily during the host family’s absence.
  • Guests may choose to travel independently. Ask the guest to provide dates, names of other travelers, destinations, and flight numbers while traveling.

G. Safe

It is not mandatory; however, it is recommended that a safe is provided so that the guest will be able to store their items in a safe place, especially if the door to the guest room does not have a lock.

H. Vetting of Guest

Prior to entering the United States, the guests must obtain a visa, special permission to enter the country. Through this process, they complete an application detailing their intentions for travel, interactions in their home country, and their criminal records if applicable. If their application is approved, they will then have an interview with the US consulate or embassy who will give the final approval/ rejection regarding their acquisition of a visa. 

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We hope this Guidebook has provided you with the information you need to make your participation in the GlobalPittsburgh Homestay Program a successful and rewarding experience for you and your family. Remember to have fun as you get to know your guest. You are creating bridges between cultures by opening up your home to a guest from another nation. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Nadya at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank you!