I learned so much in my rural village homestay. I was able to really bond and connect with my host family. Not only was my family inviting, they were really intent on having me learn about the culture and way of life….. (Click here to read her detailed experience)
visiting Bikaner, Rajasthan from France in Feb, 2016
Studies, Masters in International Relations
Living with a host family
Throughout every program, eco-travel-volunteers in India are actively engaged in the communities they visit, but it is through the ecohomestay that eco-travel-volunteers in India truly go from being a visitor of the host country to a fully immersed participant.
Through the homestay — an important component of every program — university students / young professionals become a member of a local family, joining in the family’s daily lives and activities. The homestay facilitates cultural immersion in both a fun and deeply meaningful way and provides a unique vantage point from which to better understand and experience the host country.
For some students / young professionals, the homestay allows them to practice and enhance their language skills. For other students, the homestay offers opportunities to build lifelong friendships with host siblings and parents.
Sample homestay activities
- Visit local markets
- Attend sporting events
- Cook meals together and share favorite recipes
- Visit museums, art galleries, and music venues
- Share stories and photos about your family and friends back home
- Meet your host siblings’ friends
- Meet extended family members over meals and family gatherings
- Celebrate a cultural holiday together
- Go biking or hiking in local parks, mountains, or other natural settings
Countless eco-volunteer-travellers / tourists have cited the homestay as a highlight of their summer abroad.
Homestay placements are arranged in collaboration with the engaged families and our locational project officer, which are responsible for identifying, screening, and preparing local families to host participants. Families vary in occupational, educational, and economic levels and live in diverse neighborhoods, towns, and rural settings. Families might include one or more adults and may or may not include children.
Several eco-volunteer-travellers are placed together in the same town or geographic area. This allows for group get-togethers, meetings, and cultural activities and for students / young professionals to easily access their leader. In some cases, groups get together for activities once or twice a week during the homestay period, giving students opportunities to share the positive, and sometimes funny, stories from their homestay experiences. The frequency of the group activities varies considerably by program.
The Eco-Home-Stay India team considers as much as possible the interests of both the student and the local host families. Because we want to provide the best homestay matches possible, homestay placement information is typically not available until shortly before program departure.
Some programs offer more than one homestay experience to provide a comparative view of family life in the host country. Rural homestays, particularly, may expose students to settings with basic living conditions, sometimes without electricity and running water.
Students / young professionals / participants are supported 24 hours a day throughout the homestay experience. The group leaders and in-country partner staff provide space for students to voice questions or concerns throughout the program, including throughout the homestay period. In most cases, students are able to work out any misunderstandings directly with their homestay families.
The success of the homestay experience can depend largely on each participant’s willingness to join in the daily activities of their host family. While the homestay can sometimes be challenging initially, the experience leads to greater connection and cultural understanding.
When not living with a homestay family, students stay in appropriate accommodations with their group and group leaders, which may include guest houses, educational institutions, hostels, or small hotels, depending on local conditions and customs.
Read more about program structure.