FAQs About Home Stay Hosting

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Become a Philadelphia Homestay Host and help your family to experience the diversity of the world firsthand.

Homestay hosting offers Philadelphia families, of all shapes and sizes, the opportunity to share American life and culture with people from around the globe.

With each visitor that we welcome, you will learn about the diverse traditions and customs of guests, who are current high school students or young professionals, through shared meals, cross-cultural conversations, and everyday adventures.

Homestay host families consist of couples with children, single parents with children, single women, single men (this option is not available for single female students), and retired hosts. Some hosts live in homes, others live in apartments.

Possible homestay host activities include sharing meals with visitors, showing visitors around your Philadelphia neighborhood, helping to create a positive and fun American experience, and much more.


What Do I need to provide?

  • A private guest room with a private or shared bath.
  • An easy commute for Fellows(45-minute commute on public transportation) to/from Center City Philadelphia
  • Some assistance with transportation for weekend activities.
  • Including visitors in daily and weekend family activities.

What Can I expect from my international guest?

Professional fellows are scheduled from approximately 9-5 pm Monday through Friday in their fellowships or additional meetings, workshops, or training. Cultural activities may be planned for the fellows on some evenings and weekends. As a host, you will receive a detailed schedule of the daily program, so you will be able to know when they are starting or finishing their day. Sunday is usually reserved to spend together with homestay hosts. If you cannot be home for any reason, Citizen Diplomacy will arrange an activity for the fellow or provide suggested activities. The free day is anything you and your international visitor want it to be. Shopping is often high on their list, but so is meeting other family and friends at gatherings. It’s all about experiencing America.

You will be expected to provide breakfast daily and most dinners. Each family is different but usually, we ask that you have something in the refrigerator for them to have when they get home from meetings. If you have a special time when you eat as a family, please tell your delegate and they will arrange to join you at those times.

All international visitors will participate in day-long programming with Citizen Diplomacy International, which will allow homestay host to keep their regular schedules.

What does Citizen Diplomacy International Coordinate?

We will hold an orientation session for participating families for each program. Host families are given the background country information on the sending country that World Learning has provided.  Families are coached on the cultural differences and are taught how to explain to their visitors the house rules and expectations (ie.. When are meals served? When to open the refrigerator and serve oneself? How to do laundry?).  Host families are given the contact information of all participating families to encourage communication and perhaps shared activities. It is also a way for host families to meet each other, set up potential group events, and learn about the program policies, goals, and objectives.

Citizen Diplomacy International program staff coordinate all on-the-ground logistics and prepares a program schedule for the fellows:
1. Provides a homestay for 4-6 Open World participants (5 delegates and a facilitator) for eight days
and nights and for a professional interpreter for six days.
2. Meet participants at the airport, and provide transportation between scheduled events, activities, etc.
3. Prepares a substantive program schedule that includes professional meetings for a minimum of four full working days (32 hours), meals, cultural activities, and opportunities for participants and hosts to get to know each other and share ideas. Delegates and their American hosts and presenters often stay in touch and collaborate after the visit.
4. Completes all exchange documentation with the Department of State agencies.

Who are my International Visitors?
The group of participants includes five delegates and one facilitator. Delegates are young professionals (aged 23-35 and for some delegations 23-30) from Eurasian countries. Delegates are civic leaders in the fields of health, economics, environment, education, business, local government, law, journalism, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and NPOs (nonprofit/not-for-profit organizations), and politics. The typical facilitator is fluent in English and has spent time in the U.S. as a student or intern.

Should we hire an interpreter?
No. Open World will hire a professional interpreter (someone whose full-time work is interpreting and translating) for all formal program events planned for Monday through Friday, during business hours. The delegation’s facilitator will interpret during informal events and on weekends, evenings, and lunches.

Will my guest possess insurance?
Visitors are insured under USAID’s Health and Accident Insurance Coverage Program (HAC) should visitors become ill during their stay in the US. This health insurance coverage is only for emergency situations and will not cover pre-existing conditions. Visitors have been given HAC insurance forms and guidelines in their local language and have been briefed on what to do should they need to visit a doctor or hospital emergency room.

How do I become a volunteer? Why do I need to Apply?
Please complete our VOLUNTEER APPLICATION. When a specific Dinner Hosting date arises, then you will receive another Dinner Hosting Survey to collect additional information. The survey is our chance to get to know you better so we can pair you with groups of international visitors. Specifically, we ask for your contact information, professional experience, volunteer experience, educational background, language skills, international travel, and overall interests.

What if I do not speak my International Visitor’s primary language?
We do our best to match hosts and guests based on language, interests, and fields of expertise.  If an International Visitor’s language ability requires it, then an interpreter will be assigned to accompany the visitor. We receive a profile about each fellow that describes their English language skills. Most fellows come with some English language skills, but others only speak their native language, depending on the program. We have placed delegates in homes where there was no common language only dictionaries and sign language- and we have had hosts report that it can be a challenge, but not an obstacle to enjoying their hosting experience.

How do you assign international visitors to hosts? If I submit a survey response, am I guaranteed a match?
It typically takes 1-3 business days to sort through all the Host Survey responses. Current Citizen Diplomacy members receive the first placement and then we accommodate all other volunteer requests on a first-come, first-serve basis. We average 12-25 hosting opportunities per year.

What kind of meals should I serve?
This should be a casual experience and the meals served do not need to be elaborate. Dietary restrictions, smoking, and pet concerns will be clearly stated in advance. You will receive a confirmation from our Progam team 1-4  days in advance.

Can I invite my friends or take my guests on a walk about town?
Absolutely! Our International leaders want to meet Americans while they are here – both as friends and as professional contacts. They are traveling for 3 weeks in hotels and dinner with you, your kids, your pets, and your friends are a welcome break. Want to grab cocktails at your favorite restaurant? Stroll around City Hall or simply your garden? and then have dinner – that sounds wonderful too. It is up to you to design your evening.

What about transportation?
Our Program staff provides fellows with SEPTA cards and we teach them to use public transportation to commute to and from your home and our downtown office. Our Program Officer will work with you directly to coordinate initial pick up and drop off with the visitors. Unfortunately, we are unable to cover the costs of taxi, Lyft, or Uber transportation. Visitors have been told that the operation of a motor vehicle is not allowed. Host families should not loan their vehicles to visitors or encourage their visitors to rent a vehicle.

What happens afterward?
We encourage you to follow up with Citizen Diplomacy Program Staff by phone or email. Speak freely about your experience and give us any thoughts and suggestions that would enhance future Home Hospitalities. If you know of anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer, please forward this webpage! If you have given permission in your Host Survey to share your contact information, then your international guests will be able to contact you in the future. You should ask your international guests for their contact info to follow up in the future.

More questions? Please contact Anna Schneider, Director of IVLP and Professional Exchanges directly at 267-546-7335 or anna.schneider@cdiphila.org.


“The home hospitality program has allowed my family to meet people from around the world and share not only American culture but also learn about our guests’ respective home cultures.” ~ Home Host


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