Host Family Information


For more information, contact Contact Courtney Burkey at phone: 703-993-9405; email:

“We loved our student sharing her scrapbook she made on her home country and her video. She was so proud of her country.”

“We LOVED every minute of it. We were very impressed with the maturity of the students and their strong values. They had definite plans for their lives, and they fit in easily with our family.”

“It is a quite humbling experience to see how much we take for granted. In viewing their presentations from the students’ homeland and by seeing reactions to our lifestyle makes me realize we have so much to share.”

The third Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute with South and Central Asia (BFSI) will be held June 24 – July 20, 2012 for forty-five teenagers ages 16-18 from India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the United States at George Mason University Fairfax campus. Participants will be here to study conflict resolution, democracy, diplomacy, environmental sustainability, and media. The overall goal is to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Hosting a student will further this goal as almost all the foreign students have never traveled abroad, befriended Americans, or experienced American family life.

“It is a fantastic way to learn about other cultures and to share our culture with them. Through such interaction we can jointly radically dispel stereotypes.”

The home-stay portion of the program is from the night of June 29, 2012 to the morning of July 9, 2012. We are also accepting applications for a partial home-stay (3 or more days).

“My husband and I were fascinating of the knowledge the student had about his culture and country. Another memory of the homestay was how respectful the student was towards us.”


“My favorite memories are to see such healthy, open minded, typical teenagers from across the world. They were so enthusiastic and energized by their experiences in the program they couldn’t wait to share their experiences at the end of the day.”

Hosting a BFSI exchange student is an enriching experience for you and the entire family. By opening your home and heart to a student from overseas or elsewhere in the U.S., you and your family will gain a new global perspective, fond memories, and new friendships. While their stay with you will be brief, the experience can last a lifetime.

Host families have many different faces, and are all part of the American experience. Whether or not you have children, you can be a host family. If you and your family are willing to open yourselves to new experiences and share your home and life with a fascinating teenager from across the U.S. or from a foreign land, then we want you!

The students share what they’ve experienced and learned when they go home. Watch this inspiring video of Rokhan Safir (2010) from Pakistan who organized a 3-day youth leadership institute for 30 Pakistani youth with 2 other exchange students based on the BFSI program at GMU.


“It is a great experience for both the student and the host family. Getting to know about people from other areas of the world is very enlightening.”

Hosting is about sharing your version of the American lifestyle with the BFSI student. As a host family, you’ll give your student a caring, supportive, and warm family life, even if only for ten days. You may host up to four students. When you volunteer to host an exchange student, you agree to:

  • Welcome your BFSI student into your home and life (one to four students of the same gender from the evening of June 29 to the morning of July 9, 2012, or a partial home stay of three or more days)
  • Be interested in teenagers/international students and have realistic expectations of what life with a teenager is like
  • Attend the BFSI host family orientation event and read our preparation materials. The orientation (about 1 hour) will be held the evening of June 29 prior to a dinner introducing you to your students.
  • Be able to provide your student(s) a separate bed, suitable study area and two meals per day during the week (breakfast, dinner) and three meals per day on the weekend
  • Be able to provide transportation for your BFSI student to/from the GMU Fairfax campus, and/or have nearby public transportation available for the student, or use car-pool help from our staff (Note: classes are usually held Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm)
  • Familiarize your student with your hometown and promote participation in local events
  • Understand the BFSI policies and encourage your student to adhere to those policies

All you really need to host a BFSI student is the ability and desire to share your home and open your heart to a guest family member.

“One of my favorite memories is seeing my step-daughter and Hareem teach each other prayers (Muslim and Jewish).


As a host family, you will receive a Host Family Handbook and other orientation materials. They outline policies and procedures and provide valuable information on what to expect and how to make your exchange experience most successful.

You will be invited to a 1-hour orientation before you meet your student(s) the evening of June 29.

BFSI staff will help you and your student(s) have a successful experience. We will help you if any problems arise and are available to support your family and student(s) 24-hours a day during the home-stay period.

All host family arrangements are voluntary and the BFSI program regrettably is unable to provide financial compensation in return for hosting a student(s).


“You get to meet a new friend, see your own community with “new eyes” again, learn about another place, too.”

The students selected to participate in BFSI program are highly intelligent, ambitious and adventurous. The foreign students are selected by U.S. embassies in the five participating countries and the U.S. students are selected by S-CAR/GMU & ACT. All students go through a rigorous application process, including an application form, letters of recommendation, essays, and interviews. Students are selected based on academic merit, an interest in global issues, leadership skills and community service.

BFSI students…

  • are between 16-18 years old
  • are from one of 6 countries – India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the United States
  • are here for four weeks, from June 24 – July 20 (with the home-stay visit from June 29 – July 9)
  • have English language proficiency and received good grades
  • are carefully selected through a rigorous application process
  • participate in preparatory orientations before coming to the USA/GMU
  • have their own spending money
  • have their own medical insurance


There are four steps to becoming a Host Family and sharing your home. The BFSI staff will be your partners throughout your host family experience.

Step 1: Deciding to Apply
The first step is learning more about the BFSI program and what it means to be a Host Family, much of which we’ve tried to help explain here. You can learn more about hosting by calling our office at 703-993-9405 or via email at franklin(at) (please type in “Host Family” in the subject heading) and Courtney Burke, Host Family Coordinator, will return your call/email to answer any questions you may have. Once you are ready to host a student and we have received your application, the Courtney will review the application and schedule an interview. The interview is done in your home with your entire family in residence.

We are accepting applications on a rolling basis. Please apply as soon as you are interested.

Step 2: Students are Assigned to Your Family
Matching you with your BFSI student (one to to four) takes into account interests and activities that you, your family, and our students have in common. Once you are matched with your student(s), you will receive an information packet about your student and information about the BFSI Host Family orientation (a one-hour orientation, which will take place on the evening of June 29.

Step 3: Welcoming the Student into Your Home
Typically, this step will begin when you join us at GMU on June 29, 2012 for a dinner in honor of all host families. You will meet your student(s) and take them home with you after the dinner.

Step 4: Departure
Although the exchange program ends when your student returns to the GMU campus, the relationship and experiences gained throughout the duration of the home-stay make a lasting impact. While their stay with you is brief, the friendships formed can last a lifetime.


If you have more questions, please contact Courtney Burkey at at franklin(at) or phone 703-993-9405.

To download this information, please click BFSI_Host Family_Application Information_2012


If you’ve decided that hosting is right for your family, you’ve already taken the first and most important step toward welcoming a BFSI student into your home. As you can imagine, host families are carefully selected to ensure that each student is welcomed by a safe, caring, and responsible family.

Please choose one of the methods below to start the application process.

Method 1 – Online Form: Submit your application online. Click here to complete application. Once your application has been submitted, you will be contacted by GMU/ACT staff.

Method 2 – Download Form:
Download the BFSI_Host-Family_Application_2012 (pdf version to write/type on) or Fill in Form BFSI_Host-Family_Application_2012-fill-in (doc version with fill-in boxes), and return it to:

Mailing Address:
Courtney Burkey, BFSI Host Family Coordinator
School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution
George Mason University
3401 N. Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201

Email: franklin(at) (with “Host Family Application – Your Name” in the subject heading)

FAX: 703-993-1302

Method 3 – Paper Copy: Call the BFSI staff at 703-993-9405 to request a paper copy of the Host Family Application.

Once your application has been submitted, you will be contacted by Courtney Burkey.

We look forward to helping you welcome an exchange student into your family. It’s an educational experience that will benefit your family long after your exchange student returns home!

A Program Sponsored by the Youth Programs Division, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State and the Public Affairs Sections of the U.S. Embassies. Administered by the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University (Mason), a widely recognized pioneer and leader within the field of conflict resolution, and its partner, the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT), a non-profit organization with significant experience with international youth exchange programs.