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Cultural Homestay International

About

Cultural Homestay International is an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing cultural awareness through people-to-people exchanges. CHI believes that the best way to build bridges and friendships between culture is to experience different cultures, values, and customs first-hand.

In the spirit of cross-cultural exchange, CHI offers volunteer and language learning opportunities in countries around the world. Scroll through the options below and visit the CHI website to learn more about they variety of volunteer abroad programs available.

Website
chinet.org
Founded
1980
Headquarters

255 West End Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901
United States

New Programs Annoucement

Apply for World Explorers before the end of 2018 and get $200 off!
The discount applies to the following destinations: Spain, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Reviews

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Dakota
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had the most life changing trip to South Korea. I wanted to make sure I truly wanted to study the Asian languages in college and I had a chance to go abroad. At first it was hard to get used to how safe it was and how I could just walk around. I had an amazing experience and I recommend that everyone try to go abroad. My host family was amazing and took care of me very well. Since I am only 18 I worried that it would be hard to travel and it would be very hard for me to take care of myself. They were a little shy at first but they really opened up to me after a while. My host family had three kids and they were all very kind. If anyone is worried about their relationship with a host family, just talk with them. They really are willing to make anything work and help you.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I had never traveled before and I had decided to go to Korea. I was a solo traveler but I recommend it because you truly have time to get to know yourself. The being alone was scary at first but it’s not nearly as bad as you would think.
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Maddie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The CHI world explorers program was by far the most flexible abroad program for students that I cam across. Before I left, I received plenty of travel information, tips, and advice in addition to a wealth of English teaching materials. During my stay I was in constant communication with my coordinators. The CHI staff are all extremely friendly and supportive, and are dedicated to ensuring a positive experience. I really enjoyed how flexible the program was. I wanted to improve my speaking abilities and become more fluent in French, and being placed with a host family allowed for a natural exchange of our respective languages. In addition, the structure of the program gave me the time and freedom to explore not only my city (Dunkirk), but also travel to other places in France, and in Europe.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you are interested in exploring other nearby cities, using Flixbus is great for taking day trips. It is similar to a coach bus, and the ticket prices are extremely affordable.
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Alexis
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am so grateful for my experience teaching English in Spain! Chinet placed me with the most incredible host family. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the family and using my free time to take Spanish classes and explore the area. Some of my favorite excursions included bungee jumping, taking day trips with the Spanish school I joined to nearby cities, enjoying the local cuisine, checking out a national park, watching a live futbol match, and watching free live Spanish concerts at a museum. The family I was paired with had two young girls (7 and 10) who I taught English to and I was encouraged to teach them in an informal and fun way, which meant playing lot's of games, going to the library, going for walks, and eating meals together. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better experience - everything was wonderful!

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Heather
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I participated in the World Explorer program this summer through CHI in Beijing, China. I was in Beijing for 33 days and loved every second. I didn't want to leave! My host family was amazing and brought me to the Great Wall of China and the Summer Palace. I also participated in family gatherings and experienced what barbecuing is like in China. I've never eaten so much food at one time!
I met up with two other World Explorers and visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, hutongs, and explored many parts of Eastern Beijing. Getting lost was all part of the plan as we met many amazing Chinese families more than willing to help us find our way and showed us to great places for food and drinks. The one thing I miss the most about Beijing is the subway. I never used public transportation until I arrived in Beijing.
As I am back home in the states, I still stay in contact with my host family through WeChat. If everything pans out, I'll be visiting my host family next summer. I cannot wait!

What would you improve about this program?
This program is a pretty well-oiled machine. The only thing I wish I had was a language buddy right away to help me as English isn't widely spoken.
Reece
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience because I was able to converse with locals everyday which helped me practise my Spanish which is very useful. I've made some good friends that I could treasure for a long time. I have also made what I'm happy to call a second family. One of the reasons I would recommend this experience is because you can sample some true spanish culture and make good friends for life. Before your experience starts make sure you select a country that you are passionate about and can make the most of. Not only can you meet new friends but you can also spend time away from your parents and you get a feeling of independence that you don't always get when your away with your parents. Its also a great opportunity for seeing a new country and broadening your mind without the pressure of having to go with your parents.

Programs

Displaying 10 - 18 of 18

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Daniel Asaro

Daniel Asaro, a 25 year old travel enthusiast recently took a trip overseas to Italy as an volunteer English tutor. The Southern Californian native who works at a hotel and resort in San Diego enjoys playing sports, especially soccer. Other interests include a day at the beach, a night out downtown, and yes, thanks to his experience in Italy is an avid ping pong player!
Daniel Asaro, CHI - Italy alum

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with CHI in Italy?

I decided to go abroad to Italy because it has always been a dream of mine. I've always been enchanted by the culture, food, and amazingly kind people. It also helps that I am Italian on my father's side.

Describe your day to day activities as an intern.

Well, my schedule was different day to day. On most days, I would actually help take care of the nine dogs that my host family owned. They're actually Bernese dog breeders!!!! Sometimes, I would take the train into Rome's city center, or practice my Italian. The kids would usually be home at three, sometimes later because they did after school activities. Usually when the kids arrived back home after school then I would teach an English lesson or help them with their homework. After that it was a deliciously served dinner, then TV watching or ping pong playing!

What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?

This experience is special to me because its my first time ever to Europe, specifically Italy. What's more special is that I was able to build long lasting relationships with all the people I met in Italy. Whether it is the kids, the family, or just other people that I met on my travels, I still keep in touch with them till this day.

How has this experience impacted your future?

On a personal basis, this trip has greatly impacted my future. I feel like I have a second family in Italy. In fact, they have invited me back on numerous occasions. Of course, I will go back one of these days. On a professional basis, this experience has not impacted my future as much, but I know it will. Again, I feel like there is opportunity, perhaps in Italy, I just have to be patient.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Tell us a little about CHI and your role at the company.

Cultural Homestay International is a non-profit cultural exchange organization that was started in 1980. CHI mainly works with inbound programs (such as the Summer Work and Travel Program, the Internship/Trainee Program, the Au Pair Program, and the American Year Program).

My role at CHI is in the Outbound department. I am the Program Manager for the English Conversation Volunteers Abroad Program. I am very happy with my position because it gives me the chance to send Americans to other countries, which is something I am very passionate about after living abroad for 9 years myself.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

I got involved in the volunteer industry after I moved back to the U.S. from Europe, and wanted to help other people experience living in a different country. Learning about new cultures can be one of the most inspiring and eye-opening things we can do to better our own lives. Plus, the fact that I am sending people abroad to help other people is another part of the job that makes me feel good about the work I am doing.

What makes CHI unique?

CHI is unique because we have been bringing cultures together through exchange programs for over 30 years. The founders truly believe in their mission, which makes for an ideal work situation. The experiences CHI has created for people over the years is extremely impressive. The international atmosphere in the office also provides daily doses of cultural exchange.

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?

A good volunteer should be open, eager and excited about the culture and people they are going to meet during their program. They should not be afraid to try the local food and they should make an effort to become a part of the community they are placed in.

What are CHI's most popular programs and locations?

CHI’s most popular program is the Summer Work and Travel Program that brings international students to the U.S. to work for four months. We sponsored about 6,000 students this summer.

The ECVA program is fairly new, I just started working on it last year. So far, our most popular destinations have been Japan and Spain. However, some people venture off to more exotic destinations such as Kazakhstan and Colombia.

How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?

We ensure that the ECVA program is sustainable for the participants and the host families and their community. By enabling volunteers the means to teach conversational English in an informal setting, the program is both fun and meaningful. The foreign community is given the opportunity to learn another language and new things about American culture.

The volunteers are also given the chance to try learning a new language and absorbing cultural insight through their experiences abroad. And I feel good about giving people a way to learn more about themselves and others by living abroad!

Professional Associations

Alliance for International Exchange Logo
NAFSA Logo
USA Gap Year Fairs Logo
World Youth and Student Travel Conference Logo