Recruitment of Host Families
The success of the Nova Scotia International Student Program and continued program growth depend on the ability to find and keep suitable host families. The following section gives suggestions on how to recruit families, information on promotional materials available to assist in this process, and the forms necessary for new families to complete.
Recruiting New Families
Finding new families can be a frustrating and challenging activity. Homestay Coordinators from across the province have provided a list of ideas to help find new families:
- Use email—use contact lists to send out mass emails when looking for new families.
- Look at contacts on personal email lists and ask them to send out email requests/“lost dog” ads etc. (i.e. Families with children from China, IB teachers at high schools, short-term group families.)
- When sending out the info by email always say contact will be by phone to discuss. Never leave it with the expectation they must personally follow up.
- Have students visible in the community/school. Be visible as well, people earn trust in the program when they see NSISP reps volunteering in the community. (i.e. Collecting donations for Christmas Index, packing groceries for the Brick by Brick Campaign, clubs and events at
schools/community, helping at Youth Group /Guides, etc. with international badges, displays in public places, at the library, having students take part in events—Christmas parades, festivals, fashion shows.)
- Deliver flyers in different areas to homes; pass them out at Awards ceremonies or other events at schools. Hang posters in schools or on community bulletin boards.
- Set up displays/do presentations during school events, orientations, during United Nations month, career days at school, and SAC groups at schools.
- Present in schools—get to the parents through their kids, sell the concept to the kids to reach families (show-and-tell types of presentations on student activities and culture)
- Involve Rotary clubs, church groups (information included in church bulletins)
- Convince families that are presently hosting males to try females or vice versa
- Have a roadshow—visiting schools to have students put on presentations about their country combining resources and talents at cultural events in schools and communities, ESL workshops for teachers, language lessons, salsa lessons given by schools
- Submit information to community newsletters/other newspapers. Current happenings with international students, highlighting current students/their countries. School newsletters—send info to all schools in the area even if they are not hosting students at this time.
- School-to-school exchanges
- Short term projects—share resources, names
- Review old profiles—because they said no once does not mean they will say it every time. Circumstances change. Convince families to host more than one student as bedrooms become available.
- Meet present/past host families for coffee, will come up with suggestions. Spend time visiting and chatting with current host families.
- Contact mayor’s office, town websites, organizations like Regional Development Agencies
- Make connections within the school—sports teams, music departments, other areas of interest for particular applicants, get teachers to host.
- Visit neighbouring communities looking for connections (i.e., German community.)
- Watch current students and their relationships with other families develop during the year
It is important to realize recruitment is an ongoing process. Having a list of families interested in hosting allows coordinators to spend more
time getting to know families and learning what type of student may best fit each family, an opportunity to invite new families to activities
with current students, and, most importantly, gives coordinators access to emergency homes when needed.
Recruiting new families goes hand-in-hand with program promotion. Introducing students to the community gives inexpensive and effective
promotion for finding new host families. Ideas for program promotion include: asking media to cover student events/activities, asking students to volunteer in the community raising money, working at a food bank, selling tickets, participating in the local community or church events, parades, and concerts, participating in school-based activities and teams, presenting in local elementary schools, and asking the local newspaper to interview students regularly. These are all effective ideas to get the NSISP in the spotlight, and in the eyes and minds of the community. The best way to get families interested in international students is to showcase the students themselves.