USAImmersion (USAI) is an American not-for-profit organization that offers international students a complete immersion in the language, educational system and social and cultural networks of the US. Our mission is to foster a better understanding of the US abroad and to bring the world closer to local communities in the US by guaranteeing language and cultural immersion, fostering innovation and creativity in all our programs and giving fervent attention to consistency and detail in our service. We accomplish our mission through a wide range of educational and training programs in the US, from Junior and Youth Immersion Programs with private secondary schools, summer camps and summer schools throughout the U.S. to Professional Immersion Programs in the New York tri-state area, as well as programs abroad that combine socially and culturally relevant curricula with high-quality service. We are teaching and business professionals with more than 25 years of experience working in the US. Our headquarters are in New York from where we manage all our programs.
USAI students stay with their host families for a summer, semester or academic year while attending a summer camp or private High School. The cultural exchange between your family and the student will help you both gain a deeper understanding of human values that unite all nations around the world. But what really makes this cross-cultural experience so exceptional are the relationships that evolve. By opening your home and heart to a young person from another culture you quickly establish strong bonds. This wonderful relationship can turn out to be a lifelong friendship!
USAI Host Families are as different as its students and can be with or without children as well as single adults. But one thing that unites all of them is a strong sense for the importance of cross-cultural understanding in today’s world. They are curious, open-minded, loving and willing to help a young student to adjust in a new environment.
USAI Host Families duties include the following:
- PRIOR TO THE PROGRAM the host families should
- Complete an online application and Criminal Background Check Authorization (see Frequently Asked Questions on Criminal Background Checks below)
- Become familiar with the program, home stay expectations, policies and procedures through attendance at all orientation sessions given by Host Family Coordinator
- TO WELCOME THE STUDENT host families should
- Introduce the student to the home and community
- Integrate the student into regular, day-to-day household life
- Explain to the student the family’s expectations and house rules including phone use, showers, laundry, curfews, visitors, and chores (USAI does not permit students to smoke or drink alcohol at any time)
- Treat the student not as a guest but rather as a member of the family
- THE HOSTS WILL PROVIDE
- Room and board for the student
- Safe home atmosphere
- Inclusion of the student in family chores and activities
- Transportation to central point pick up location for camp programs
- THE HOSTS SHOULD COMMUNICATE
- Keep the lines of communication open with the student. If hosts and students have disagreements or differences of opinion, they should try to work them out together
- If the household cannot reach a solution to a disagreement, they should contact the Host Coordinator
- Any serious problems or concerns should be brought to the immediate attention of the Host Coordinator, or any USAI staff member
- THE HOSTS SHOULD REMEMBER
- Always keep a copy of the student medical release and student health insurance card at home or on hand should the student need to be taken to the doctor or the hospital
- Always communicate immediately any illness or accident to the Host Coordinator, or any USAI staff member
USAI Host Families receive support from a USAI International Coordinator who lives close to your home. Throughout the academic year, the Coordinators are responsible for the supervision of each of their students, including monthly contact with the students and bi-monthly home visits with the students and family as well as continued contact with the local camp or school. During the summer time, the coordinators are responsible for checking on a weekly basis with the family to ensure both families and students are adjusting well to each other. Local Coordinators are also in constant contact with our central office upstate New York throughout the year.
USAI has specific qualifications and rules for students which must be met and agreed upon before they are accepted into our program.
USAI qualifications for Exchange Students are as follows:
- Must be between the ages of 12 and 18 ½ years old to participate in the Academic program or 12 and 17 years old to participate in the Summer Program.
- Actively enrolled in a school in their home country. Must have good recommendations from teachers.
- Cannot have failed a year of school or English in the past three years and must have maintained a B GPA overall.
- Have studied at least 3 years of English and possess basic practical skills in written and spoken English.
USAI rules for Exchange Students are as follows:
- Abide by the federal, state and local laws of the United States and host town. Under these laws, consumption of alcoholic beverages by anyone under the age of 21, and the use or possession of illegal drugs is prohibited. These laws may also include local curfews. Be aware of these laws, and be mindful that they may be different from laws in their home countries and that the violation may lead to serious punishment.
- Accept placement with a family of any race, creed or color. Live as a member of their Host Family, and accept the responsibilities given to them.
- Read and carefully consider all materials made available that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural and religious conditions in their host town. Be aware of local conditions that may present health or safety risks when making daily choices and decisions.
- Respect the host high school or camp’s guidelines and policies, including those with regard to conduct, delinquency, grade levels, participation in graduation ceremonies and issuance of diplomas.
- Maintain a B average or higher in all courses at the host school. Courses must include English (other than English as a second language) and an American History course and two other academic courses. Attend school or summer camp every day that it is in session and follow school or camp policies with regards to absence.
- Travel with adult members of the Host Family, the Local Coordinator, official school or group organized trips. Students must obtain written permission from USAI’s Central office if traveling by air and/or if travel results in school absences.
- Driving or purchasing a motorized vehicle (car, motorcycle, boat, or any other vehicle requiring a driver’s license) is prohibited. Driving is permitted with the instructor of an official driver’s education course and only during class hours. This is solely for the purpose of obtaining a driving license and does not allow the student to drive after a license is obtained.
- Have access to a minimum of $150 to $200 US dollars per month to cover personal expenses. They should not borrow money from their Host Family.
- Students who indicate that they do not smoke on their application may not smoke during the program year. Students who indicate that they smoke on their application must follow all guidelines their family and community may have in regards to smoking. In some States, communities, schools and summer camps, it is against the law under a certain age to smoke or possess tobacco or tobacco related items.
- Acknowledge that USAI reserves the right to dismiss any student who fails to uphold any and all of the above rules or the specific USAI summer program regulations. In the event that a student is dismissed from the program, the parent or natural guardians are responsible for all additional expenses incurred above those of the regular program costs. In the case of a dismissal, program fees will not be reimbursed.
- Acknowledge that USAI is not acting in the capacity of in loco parentis with respect to them, and that their natural parents still retain all of their rights and obligations and are expected to maintain regular frequent (once or twice per month) contact via telephone, electronically or in person (if possible after five months of the program start date).
- Employment is not allowed on either a full or part-time basis. However, students may accept sporadic or intermittent employment such as babysitting or yard work.
The following are some expectations from students:
- Participate in home life respecting the cultural norms and rules of the household including such things as meal times, laundry, curfews, phone use, computer, showers, visitors, and chores
- Students have to interact with the family after dinner and during the weekends. Students should proactively participate in the activities or down time that the family spends together in the evenings and weekends. Time spent on their own in their bedrooms reading or checking emails should be minimal
- Respect and tolerance are must words for all students. Students are not allowed to use derogatory language towards each other, any family members or friends, handicapped individuals, or any ethnic, religious or other minority groups.
- Students have to share their cultural backgrounds with their hosts: family, city, region, and country information, show how a meal from his/her country is made, music, etc.
- Keep the lines of communication open with the host family. If there is a disagreement or difference of opinion, students and hosts should try to work it out together
- Be honest when filling out their student profile and inform hosts about any personal habits that may impact the household such as smoking, drinking, or dietary restrictions. The student may need to be flexible because the hosts may not be able to provide vegetarian or other special foods
- Find out host families’ expectations for curfews and always commit to them
- Expect to take care of your own laundry including any ironing unless advised otherwise
- In the event of illness, students agree to notify the Host Family Coordinator immediately. Make sure they always carry their insurance card and medical release
- Students have to use their own calling cards when calling family abroad
- Bring any serious problems or concerns to the immediate attention of the Host family coordinator or other staff members
- Students have to speak in English. If students speak their own languages they will be subject to disciplinary measures. If several families get together for a social activity and the students start speaking their own language, no more social activities will be allowed among those families
- Students are allowed to use internet access to check email only. Time spent in front of the computer should be minimal. Also, time spent on the phone and text messaging with the family and friends back at home should be minimal.
- Be responsible for their behavior and actions in the home stay. Students are not allowed to play with fire or sharp instruments or tools. Do your part to maintain the safe environment provided by the Host family
- We strongly discourage international students from being in a car where an American teen is driving
- A reminder that families are not required to take students sight-seeing or on other tourist activities. If they do so, it is out of their own generosity and desire to share with students the history and culture of the place where they live
- Students are not there to judge how a family lives. Remember that families are voluntary and they host students out of their desire to share with students their culture and interest to learn about other countries.