“Elisa was our gift of 2018.”
These words sum up the meaningful Homestay program experience of Niagara College’s Manager, Cultural & Global Engagement Maxine Semple. During the Fall 2018 term, Semple and her husband, Craig Ozog, hosted student Elisa Meyer, who attended NC on a semester exchange from Hochschule Bremen University and is originally from Marklohe, Germany.
This past spring, NC began accepting applications for host families interested in participating in the Homestay program as the College begins welcoming groups of students from countries such as Aruba, Japan, Korea, Denmark and Scotland to its campuses for short-term and long-term educational programs.
Students who apply for NC’s Homestay program are matched with a local family, fostering a unique and mutually rewarding opportunity. Experiencing the lifestyle of a local family helps those studying at the College from around the world become immersed in Canadian culture. At the same time, the experience serves to create a more globally and culturally engaged community.
Welcoming a student studying abroad provides an opportunity for host families to experience new world views, without leaving the comforts of their home. It allows hosts to further develop their understanding of different cultures and education systems in other parts of the world, and presents a personal and professional development opportunity, especially for those working in the postsecondary system.
“Living with Elisa was great in helping me understand not just her German culture, but what was most beneficial was having Elisa share her academic and student experience with me,” said Semple. “Each day she would come home, we would talk about how her classes were, what she was learning, what she enjoyed or what was challenging. Professionally, it was great to have Elisa with me to become better connected to the student experience.”
Referring to Semple and Ozog as her heroes and a second mom and dad, Meyer shared how she highly recommends the Homestay program.
“The best part is you may have a second family at the end of the adventure like I did,” said Meyer. “When you are hundreds of kilometres away from your home country and also don’t speak fluently English or in general the language, a homestay family will help you a lot and support you. Firstly, you are not completely alone at home, you have your homestay family and you can talk with them and practice speaking English. You will also get to see and know more about the country’s culture, food, behavior, and a lot more.”
Meyer also expressed what a pleasure it was to meet her host’s extended family and “have new Granny’s, aunts and uncles.”
Almost four years after the experience, Meyer, Semple and Ozog still consider each other family and regularly connect; the family made the trip to Germany to visit Meyer, while Meyer came back to Canada see her former homestay family in April 2022.
How to get involved
By sharing your culture with one of our students, you can help make their experience at NC a remarkable one.
Members of the NC community are invited to submit an application to become a host family through the Homestay program and are encouraged to share this opportunity with friends and neighbours who live in Welland, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines.
Becoming a short-term host family is an opportunity for those who are not able to commit to the full duration of the Homestay program and would involve a one-to-four-month commitment, while a long-term host family commits to four months or longer. Host families are compensated $850 (CAD) per month for their involvement.
Individuals living in the areas highlighted in the housing zoning maps linked below are encouraged to submit an online application. To allow for processing times, those interested in the program are encouraged to submit their application by Friday, July 1, however, applications will continue to be accepted after this date
Please share this opportunity with friends and neighbours who live in Welland, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. View housing zoning maps here.
Questions? A member of NC’s Housing and Settlement team would be happy to help with any questions and can be reached by emailing [email protected].
To learn more about becoming a Homestay family, please visit: international.niagaracollege.ca/student-services/housing-options/host-family/