Frequently Asked Questions
(For more details, click on "EPC Training Materials" above, then "Policies and Procedures)
Host Family Recruitment
What steps should I take if I have a family interested in hosting a student?
- Explain a little bit about the program – the age of the students, that they live with volunteer families, when they arrive, how long they stay, etc.
- Ask how they heard about SHARE!
- Take down the person’s name, address, phone number and email address (don’t assume that they’ll contact you again).
- Ask about their family particulars and preferences – gender, country, pets, interests, diet, religious attendance, etc.
- Finally, let them know that they will receive an email with details about the SHARE! program, instructions on how to complete their host family application, and 4-5 students for them to review. Let them know to call you back as soon as they’ve reviewed the information.
- Once you hang up, call your Team Leader immediately so that he/she can assist you in sending the email.
I was contacted by a school sports coach who wants to host a student athlete. May I find a student who excels at that sport to place in that family? No. This is strictly against the rules of CSIET, the governing body of exchange student programs. It is probably also against your state and/or local high school athletic association’s rules. For this reason, school coaches are not allowed to host students who play their sport.
Before The Students Arrive
Which orientations does the U.S. Department of State require me to conduct?
- A pre-arrival orientation for all host families
- A post-arrival orientation for all host families and students
- A pre-departure orientation for all host families and students.
Orientation materials and orientation sign-in sheets can be found in the links at the top of the page.
What is in each of the packets that ERDT mails?
Host Family Placement Packet: ERDT Brochure; Darkness 2 Light 7 Steps to Protecting our Children; SHARE! Host Family & Student Workbook, SHARE! Host Family Handbook, letter to host families from U.S. Dept. of State, U.S. CultureGram
Student Welcome Packet: 5 Simple Steps on the Path to a Greener Future; 5 Steps for Recognizing, Preventing and Reporting Sexual Abuse; Good Advice from Former Students; Welcome to the United States; Say What: A Guide to American Idioms; The Exchange Visitor Program Welcome Brochure (pub. U.S. Dept. of State); letter to students from U.S. Dept. of State; SHARE! Student Handbook; U.S. CultureGram
High School Packet: ERDT Brochure; Current CSIET Certificate; ERDT’s listing in the CSIET advisory list; CSIET Model School Policy; Darkness 2 Light 7 Steps to Protecting our Children; ERDT Fact Sheet; SHARE! Standards of Conduct; Blank High School Authorization Form
Student Monitoring, Relocation, Problem Solving and Discipline
One (or more!) of my students is homesick. How can I help them? Make contact with the student - either by the phone or in person - and allow them to talk about how they are feeling. Avoid the immediate temptation to react, offer advice, debate or shallowly sympathize... just listen. Let them know that their feelings are normal. Come up with a plan, together, for how they can get through this rough time. Remind them that while a little contact with home can be helpful, too much could make them more homesick. Let your Team Leader know that you've had this conversation, so that they can let the National Office know, who in turn can notify the overseas agent and thus, the student's natural parents.
What are the most effective ways for me to find replacement host families? In many cases, finding a replacement host family can be easier than finding a first host family, as the student has already become known in the community. Be sure to:
- Get on the phone! Call all past prospective host families in the student’s school district
- Ask your Team Leader if he/she will send an email to families in the area.
- Ask the student for the names and phone numbers of several friends from school. Contact the parents of each of these friends to let them know that we are looking for a host family for this student (the exchange student may tell his/her friends that he/she will need a new host family, but it is the responsibility of the EPC to contact the parents of the friends).
- Contact the school counselor. Tell the counselor about the situation and ask if he/she would be willing to hand out flyers at school (School counselors have often been willing to put a flyer in each teacher’s box – then the teacher will announce it in class.
Should students be kept in the same high school when they are moved? In most cases, it is best for students to stay in the high school when they are moved to a new host family. Transferring schools creates additional stress in a situation that is likely already stressful. In some cases, it may not be possible to keep the student in the same school - for example, if a host family is unable to be found in the same school district. You may also find that a previous host family doesn't want the student to stay in the same school, particularly if their own child attends the school. In cases like this, explain that while their feelings are valid, it is important for the student to stay in the same academic environment. Remind them that if the student is reported to be gossiping about the first family, they will be put on probation.
What are the academic standards that SHARE! students are held to? Students must maintain a “C” (2.0) average, with no failing grades (F’s). If you receive a report that a student is not following this rule, contact your Team Leader to have the student put on probation.
Does the school need to allow the student to graduate / get a diploma / play sports? No. Students are told that they must accept the school’s decision with regards to diplomas, graduation, and playing sports. If your student is lobbying the school to change this decision, contact your Team Leader to let him/her know, and conduct a Problem Resolution with the student and school.
How much contact am I required to have with the school? You are required to contact the school 4 times a year to conduct Monthly Progress Reports. If the school tells you that they do not have time for these 4 phone calls, please discuss it with your Team Leader so that you can meet your reporting requirements those months.
I was contacted by a school because one of the students’ applications is missing some academic transcript paperwork or medical paperwork. In some instances, paperwork may have not been uploaded to the student's online application. Contact your Team Leader to get copies of this paperwork. If you cannot reach the EPC and need the paperwork urgently, you may contact the SHARE! National Office.
Do exchange students need to be enrolled in a specific grade level? Italian, Serbian and Montenegrin students must be enrolled as seniors. (This is stated on the "High School Authorization To Enroll" form.) All other students may be enrolled in any grade level. Some schools enroll students in the same grade level as their U.S. classmates of the same age; other schools enroll all exchange students as seniors, for example, so that they may experience senior-year festivities. Aside from Italian, Serbian and Montenegrin students, SHARE! students are expected to accept their assigned grade level without complaint.
Are there any class requirements for exchange students? SHARE! prefers that students take American History and/or English, and that at least 2/3 of their classes be academic in nature. Many students have specific classes that they must take to meet academic requirements in their home country. It is the student's responsibility to enroll in these classes while in the U.S.; however, if your school does not offer the required classes, the student must choose other classes.
Health, Safety and Cultural Adjustment
Culture shock... what should I expect? How can I help students deal with it? Remember – culture shock is the normal reaction to the stress & confusion of trying to adapt to living in a foreign culture. SHARE! provides students with a guide that explains some of the stages of cultural adjustment and helps them to recognize and react to these stages. Download “’Why Do I Feel Like This?’ All About The Adjustment Cycle: A Guide For Students.” If a student reports depression, major mood swings or thoughts of suicide, contact your Team Leader immediately.
Some of my student’s cultural “norms,” (for example, hygiene, dress, behavior, or communication style) makes people here uncomfortable. Since the student is really doing nothing wrong, how do I deal with this? The purpose of the SHARE! program is to teach students how people in the U.S. live, and how they can adapt to that way of living. Approach the issue with honesty and explain to the student that in order to get a better feeling for U.S. culture, they should adapt to these standards of U.S. culture. And remember, humor can help smooth over what could be a difficult conversation! If the behavior does not change and/or threatens the student’s relationship with the school or host family, conduct a Problem Resolution and contact your Team Leader.
What should I do if a student or host family comes to me with evidence or an allegation of sexual abuse?Regardless of whether you have confirmed that the allegation is true (which is not your job), immediately locate the student and remove them from the situation - whether it be the host family's home, a class at school, a friend's home, etc. While you are picking the student up, contact your Team Leader to let them know. If you are unable to immediately remove the student, contact your Team Leader so that they may make arrangements to remove the student. Once the student is with you, explain why you removed them from the situation. Allow them to speak without asking them leading questions. Remain in constant contact with your Team Leader for further instructions.
Can students get a cell phone? They may get a cell phone, but may not enter into a contract. They may get a prepaid phone. The host family may allow the student to borrow a phone if they wish, but the student is responsible for any extra costs that are incurred (text messages, overages, data plans, roaming or international charges). If the host family does not have a landline, they must provide the student with a cell phone at their own expense, to be used for emergencies.
Can I confiscate a student’s laptop or cell phone? Yes. First, contact your Team Leader to let him/her know. Remember that a student must have a phone at home for emergencies. If the family does not have a landline and has not provided the student with a phone, you may not confiscate the student’s phone.
(For more details on travel, visit our Student Travel page)
May a student’s family / friends / boyfriend / girlfriend come visit them in the U.S.? Students are not permitted to have visitors – or travel to meet up with family or family friends - for the first 6 months of their program. After 6 months, students may request to have family or friends visit. Students are never permitted to have visitors under 25 (unless the visitor’s parent is present), or stay anywhere overnight without someone 25 or over. Single-semester students may not have visitors during the program. Students may travel with family or family friends after the program with permission; however they may not return to the host family’s home.
What is required for a student to travel to another country, such as Canada, Mexico or their home country, then return to the U.S.? For travel outside of the US, including cruises and travel to Canada and Mexico, the student must send his or her DS-2019 form (which is inserted into the student’s passport) into the ERDT National Office for a signature, well in advance of the trip. This is the only way the student will be allowed back into the USA, as his or her visa is for a single entry into the US. Contact your Exchange Program Coordinator for detailed instructions. Students should contact the consulate of the country they are visiting (contact information can be found online) to determine visa and entry requirements for citizens of the student’s home country. If students travel overseas after the program, they must take all belongings with them and return directly to their home country (SHARE! will not sign DS-2019 forms for students to re-enter the U.S. after their departure from the host family’s home).
As an EPC, am I a staff member of ERDT/SHARE!? No. SHARE! EPCs are independent contractors and are issued a 1099 at the end of each calendar year. EPCs receive a Placement Documentation Fee of $200 for each student that they place after all required paperwork is submitted. After the students arrive EPCs are further compensated monthly on a per-student basis.
How do I find out about incentives (monthly rewards, placement goal awards, incentive trips)? Make sure you’re receiving our weekly e-memo! It contains all of the updated information on incentives from the National Office. you aren’t receiving the e-memo, check with your Team Leader.
How do I know, or prove, that I am working with a reputable organization? Check out the webpage About ERDT for more information on why we are among the most respected organizations in the exchange industry.
Does a host family get anything for referring a new family? We will mail a $100 AMEX gift card to someone if they refer a new family through the website. This means that if they have referred someone to you in the past, they cannot come back and re-refer them through the website. We check every referral to see if the referred family is already in ZAPP or our database. If they are, we email the referring party to let them know that their referral was not eligible for the $100. Furthermore, if a referrer types into the comments section that "the family has already been in contact with an EPC," we will automatically reject them for the referral bonus. (So...if a family comes to you with a referral, inform them that if they want to get the $100 referral bonus, they must enter the family through the website before you contact the family.)
Can I SHARE! pictures of the cool things my kids are doing? Yes! Visit our Facebook page (click on the button below) and upload them, or email them to info.erdtshare.org.
What are some ways to make this job fun for me, the EPC? Plan a trip or activity with your students! It could be as small as a weekend picnic, or as big as a spring break cruise to Mexico! The bigger the activity, the more pre-planning it will take. Also, be sure that you have permission from your Team Leader and are familiar with all of the Student Travel Guidelines (see top of page). Your students will appreciate the chance to spend time with you and with the other students.
Can one of my host families send their child to another country on an exchange program? Due to low interest, SHARE! does not have an outbound high school program. We do have an excellent volunteer program, called Volunteer Ventures, that provides people 18 and over with volunteer opportunities abroad. For more information about this program, visit www.volunteerventures.org