HOST UK is an organisation that promotes international friendship and understanding by arranging for international students at British universities to meet UK residents in their homes. Read on to find out how Sue Millington-Hore contributes to the organisation.
Where are you a volunteer for and for how long have you been doing it?
I volunteer for HOST UK and have been hosting for about 5 years.
How did you get in to volunteering and what do you do?
I was asked to become honorary treasurer of the charity and subsequently decided to become involved in hosting foreign students. HOST provides weekend breaks or day visits for foreign university students studying in the UK for a minimum of one semester. Many foreign students studying in the UK find that they are only mixing with other foreign students and do not get the opportunity to go into a British home. The student will come to stay for 1 or 2 days and will mix in with everyday life in a family home. It gives them the opportunity to ask questions, learn a little about our food and culture and see how we live.
What do you enjoy about your volunteering role, how does it benefit you?
We really enjoy entertaining foreign students and having the chance to talk to them about their life at home. The students are expected to mix in with the family and help with cooking, washing up etc. We get great satisfaction in feeling that we have helped the student to settle into life in the UK more easily. One student was surprised that we ate the flesh of a melon. In her country, they only used the seeds and threw away the flesh. (I imagine these were not the same but at least she now knows how to eat the melons sold in our supermarkets).
Another student who was here with her young child was amazed to find that access to public playgrounds is free. Finally a student couple from China visited us for a weekend with their 5 year old daughter. They were amazed when their daughter started speaking to us in English. Whilst their daughter had been in an English school for 6 months, they had never actually heard her speak English before. Some of our greatest weekends are when we have students to stay from different countries who have never met each other before.
If someone was interested in finding out more about the organisations you volunteer for, how could they get in touch?
HOST UK is always looking for people who are willing to be a Host Family. All you need is to enjoy entertaining others and a spare bedroom (if you wish to offer weekend breaks). Hosts are not paid but can claim a modest allowance to cover expenses.
Please contact anyone at HOST UK who will be happy to provide you with more information. Alternatively go to the website.