Program Description

The American Family Homestay Program is a rewarding opportunity for the students and their host families.  Local families "adopt" incoming Intensive English Programs students for their first 8-9 weeks of study in the United states.  The program allows students and host families to share their culture and language and make lasting friendships while the students develop their English language skills and gain a "home away from home" in Cape Girardeau.

Information for Students

Students who participate in the homestay program enjoy representing thier country and sharing their culture with a family in Cape Girardeau.


To be eligible for the American Family Homestay Program, a student must be:

  • between 18 and 20 years of age
  • enrolled in one of the Intensive English Programs
  • arriving from outside the United States (not a returning IEP student)

 Benefits of the American Family Homestay Program

  • Develop English language skills more quickly
  • Stay in a friendly environment during your first weeks in Cape Girardeau.
  • Learn about American foods, customs, and culture by observing a family's lifestyle.
  • Enjoy emotional support and assistance while you adjust to American Culture.

Responsibilities of the Student

  • Clearly explain your needs, wishes, and concerns (allergies to foods, etc.).
  • Respect the host family's lifestyle, routines, and house rules.
  • Pay for telephone calls (long distance), entertainment, medical bills, and activities not initiated by the International Center or the hosts.
  • Ask permission before inviting guests to the home or planning time away from the home.
  • Do not smoke in the house without permission.
  • Offer to help with chores, such as washing dishes and keeping your room tidy.
  • Observe the rules of the University and the laws of the State of Missouri (alcohol, drugs, etc.).
  • Show an active interest in learning about the culture and customs of the homestay family.

Student Homestay Application

Any new IEP student may apply for homestay for their first eight weeks in the USA.  Applications must be received at least 2 months in advance of the planned homestay experience.  Prospective Intensive English Programs students who are interested in being considered for a homestay experience may download and complete the Family Home Stay Application.

The American Family Homestay Program normally only places one student per host family, although some families will host two students at one time.  Student accounts will be charged for their homestay with includes a Placement Fee and a Host Stipend Fee.

Student Homestay Resources

The Intensive English Programs provide an orientation and on-going support for all homestay students.  The Homestay Student Handbook provides helpful information about what to expect during your homestay, including information about Cape Girardeau and Missouri, help for dealing with Culture Shock, and emergency contact names and numbers.

Information for Host Families

Host families have the opportunity to learn a great deal about their student's home society and culture.  Often times, the host families develop long term relationships with their students and become a "home away from home" to the student, long after he or she has moved into campus housing or has returned to his or her home country.


A good host family:

  • is interested in learning about other cultures
  • is interested in sharing American culture with others and speaks English in the home
  • represents the diversity of American cultures
  • represents the diversity of American family styles, including single individuals, couples, or partners with or without children
  • is able to provide a safe and nourishing home environment for the host student

Benefits of the American Family Homestay Program

  • Share your family customs and American culture with an IEP student.
  • Learn about other languages, cultures, and traditions.
  • Develop last friendships.
  • Support Southeast Missouri State University and the Cape Girardeau community.

Host Family Responsibilities

  • Provide transportation to and from school as needed.
  • Provide all meals except weekday lunches.
  • Provide a private bed and bedding.
  • Include the homestay student in family activities and routines, keeping in mind that the participant might need some time alone.
  • Encourage the student through conversation practice in English.
  • Participate whenever possible in program events that are available to host families.
  • Explain procedures (e.g., laundry, bathing), guidelines, and schedules to the student.
  • Respect the student's religious views and allow him/her to chose whether or not to participate in the religious observances of the homestay family.
  • Show an active interest in learning about the culture and customs of the homestay student.
  • Provide a nurturing environment supportive of a successful adjustment to a new culture and foreign studies.

Host Family Application

Families interested in hosting students should complete the Host Family Prospect Form.

For more information about the homestay program and current availability, contact the Intensive English Programs at 573-986-6894 or by email at

Host Family Resources

The Intensive English Programs provide an Orientation, on-going support, and a modest stipend to defray the cost of hosting a student.  The Host Family Handbook provides helpful information including ideas for discussion, information on Culture Shock, and emergency contact names and numbers.

Additional Information

Several websites can be informative for those local families that host students.  One such site that pertains to the Student Exchange Alliance hosting Japanese students in particular is