The need for host families to house foreign exchange students in the Coastal Bend grows

Posted at 5:14 PM, May 29, 2019


It enriches our community because we’re bringing these kids in from other countries that our kids don’t ever go or have never been,” said Susan Hicks, community representative.

Hicks is a host parent. She hosts foreign exchange student in her home every year, sometimes more than one at a time. To date, she and her husband have hosted 25 students altogether.

“We’ve been hosting for like 16 or 17 years,” said Hicks.

Through the non-profit ‘Face the World’, teenagers from across the globe apply to come to America to spend the school year learning about a new culture, practicing the English language, and becoming independent young adults.

“They fix their own breakfast and they get ready for school and they take the bus,” said Hicks. “They also take a full schedule of classes just like all of our kids take here.”

These teens attend a local high school, and they try to do everything to immerse themselves into their new lifestyle.

“Personally, I wanted to play a little American football over here so then I got football season and playing with Calallen and the playoffs,” said Jonathan Wibring, a foreign exchange student from Germany.

“Meeting new people and getting to try new food,” said Nattputt Phoinpimonchoke, from Thailand.

Hicks says every year the need for people to become host families grows.

Although the requirements to sign up may be considered stringent, once a family is approved, a young person’s dream to live in America can easily be fulfilled.

“You do have to give us references, you have to do a criminal background check and after we do that we do a home visit,” said Hicks.

“You’re blessing a kid who has been wanting to come for years to the United States and see what America is like,” said Hicks.

Host parents can also receive a charitable taxable deduction for hosting an exchange student.

For more information on how to become a host in the Coastal Bend area you can call 1-800-216-3223 or email

You can also visit for more information