Because Greenheart Travel programs focus on language and cultural immersion, many programs – like our Teen Summer Language Camps, Teach English in a Homestay, and High School Abroad programs – travelers stay with host families.
Whether you teach in a homestay in Thailand, study Italian in Florence or go to high school in Spain, living with a host family is one of the best parts. They may be strangers at first, but sooner than you know you’ll be eating breakfast in your pajamas, going to the supermarket and watching movies with them.
Living with a new family is often an adjustment, but every day you’ll learn more about each other’s quirks and personalities. Even before you arrive, you’ll show them a taste of your personality through a “Dear Family Letter.” If you’re not sure what this means or what to write – don’t worry!
Here’s everything you wanted to know but didn’t want to ask about writing a letter to your host family:
A ‘Dear Family Letter’ is a short introduction to who you are and why you want to live abroad. When you are matched with a family, they’ll receive this letter just as you’ll receive a letter from them. This is the first way they learn about you and it’s your chance to show them you’re ready to be part of their family.
Kathy Clancy, Teach in a Homestay in Italy, France, and Argentina alum, says one of the most important things for her to demonstrate in the letter is her desire to be make the family a priority and develop strong bonds with them.
The families I stayed with wanted a ‘friend’ and someone they believed would follow the flow of the family (make them a priority), and not someone who was in the program just for their own experience.
Think of this section as an elevator pitch about your life.
Have you traveled before? Did you have a great host family experience before, and that’s why you’d like to do it again? What inspired you? What about their country intrigues you?
• If you’ve read, watched movies or listened to music from their country, let them know! They’ll be happy you’ve already taken an interest in their culture.
Maybe you hope to share your love of the English language. Maybe you’re a history buff who wants to learn about Argentina or you’d like to climb mountains in Chile. Perhaps you’d also love to become conversational in French, train for a marathon or learn photography. Whatever it is, let them know!
Let them know how much it means that they want to welcome you into their family! Remember that it will be just as much an adjustment for them as it is for you. Showing your appreciation and excitement early will set the tone for your stay.
Through your letter, your family gets a better sense of why you’re a great fit for their home. It gives them a way to plan for your visit. For example, if you mention you love to play violin, they might have a family friend who also plays the instrument and they’ll connect you with a local (and you can make friends while on your program).
Plus, it’s a great ice breaker! You’ll Skype with your family before you depart. Already having that letter helps the family dive right into getting to know you.
The host families are thrilled to meet and get to know Greenheart Travelers, so a ‘Dear Family Letter’ is a great opportunity to make a good first impression and get them excited for you to join their home.