Foreign Exchange students attend high school in Johnston County, through an agency approved by the school district. Students are expected to integrate themselves into the host family, immersing themselves in the local community and surroundings. Upon their return to their home country they are expected to incorporate this knowledge into their daily lives, as well as give a presentation on their experience to their sponsors. Some exchange programs expect students to be able converse in the language of the host country, at least on a basic level. Some programs require students to pass a standardized test for English language comprehension prior to being accepted into a program taking them to the United States. Other programs do not examine language ability. Most exchange students become fluent in the language of the host country within a few months.
A host family volunteers to house a student during their exchange program visit. Students are responsible for their own spending, including school fees, uniform, text books, internet, and phone calls. Host families could be family units with or without children or retired couples; most programs require one host to be at least 25 years of age. The host families are well prepared to experience a new culture and give a new cultural experience to the student. Host families are responsible for providing a room, meals, and a stable family environment for the student. Most exchange programs allow for a switch of hosts if problems arise.
The home country organization will contact a partner organization in the country of the student’s choice. Students accepted for the program are screened by the organization in their home country. Partner organizations in the destination country each have differing levels of screening they require students to pass through before being accepted into their program. For example, students coming to the U.S. may be allowed to come on the recommendation of the organization in their home country, or the hosting partner may require the student to submit a detailed application, including previous school report cards, letters from teachers and administrators, and standardized English fluency exam papers. The U.S. agency may then accept or decline the applicant. Some organizations also have Rules of Participation. For example, almost all U.S. organizations cannot allow an exchange student to drive an automobile during their visit. Some organizations require a written contract that sets standards for personal behavior and grades, while others may be less rigorous. Programs provided by agencies that provide compensation for representatives retain local representatives to assist and guide the student and keep track of their well-being.