Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

February 7, 2023
Hosting exchange students

There are people that open their homes and hearts to students from foreign countries.

Kasie Godfrey, Tooele City, is one of them. Godfrey and her family have been hosting exchange students for several years. They hosted their first high school exchange student in 2019.

 “These students become part of your family,” she said.

“My husband and I had talked about it [hosting] when we first got married but it was never something we really looked into,” Godfrey explained. “One day, I saw a posting about it on a Facebook group, and I reached out to the lady, and asked a bunch of questions … We eventually decided that it was right for us.”

One of the major reasons Godfrey decided to host was because the agency allowed families to choose their student.

“You can kind of have your pick,” she said.” They try to match you based on your traits and personalities, and the things you like to do, so that you will have a good experience.”

Exchange students typically arrive a week or less before school starts and live with their host family during the whole school year. Then, they return home around a week after school ends, according to Godfrey.

Students come from all around the world, including Europe, Asia, and South America.

Shortly after they decided to be a host family, their first student, a young man from Spain, arrived.

Godfrey recalled a memory with the young man.

“My husband and I hosted the year we were expecting a baby,” she said. “We didn’t have a very strong connection with our student yet, though he had been with us for four months. We had our baby at the local hospital that was about a mile down the street from us. Our student wasn’t there right after we had the baby because he had some other things going on. However, he came as soon as he could, and watching him with how much he loved that baby was priceless. After he met the baby, he was so excited about it that he walked all the way home and back to bring us any sort of gift that he could for our baby, bringing the baby a bear, mom earrings, lots of treats, and he heard us talking about how I wanted my Crumbl cookie in the fridge so he brought that too. It was in the winter, so it was cold, but he did it anyway.”

After their experience with the boy from Spain, the Godfrey’s knew they wanted to host another student, but the next year the COVID-19 pandemic began and they weren’t able to host.

When things opened back up during the 2021-2022 school year, they were able to host again and took in a girl from Germany.

Godfrey recalled a fond memory she has of the girl.

“One day we asked our student to watch our kids for us so we could go on a date for Valentine’s Day and she said yes — it’s important to note that students can choose if they would like to babysit and that a host family can never require a student to babysit,” Godfrey said. “While we went on our date, she sent us cute photos of the kids having fun with her. We returned to a spotless house she and the kids had cleaned, a Valentine craft she helped the kids make for us, and a sweet treat she put together. She really aimed to make our day special.”

This year, the Godfrey’s are hosting a girl from Thailand who loves to cook for the family.

Godfrey enjoys experiencing new things with the students.

“During the first few weeks they are here, it’s like Christmas every day,” she said. “Everything is new. The food they eat is new. The routines are new. I love taking the students to Walmart, because in a lot of countries, there aren’t any Walmarts.”

The Godfrey’s have created lifelong bonds with their students.

“It really is like having another family member. They become part of you,” Godfrey said. “I still talk to the students I have hosted in previous years … We went to visit my student in Spain after he left and that was really neat. We are going to visit the girl from Germany in a few weeks. It’s so cool, because you form relationships you couldn’t form otherwise.”

After her second year of hosting, Godfrey decided she wanted to work with the foreign exchange student agency, “Councils for Educational Travel USA” and she took up a position as a coordinator.

“I was interested in coordinating, because I think it’s such an important thing that families can host these students,” she said.

As a coordinator, Godfrey works to interview families and students and find a good placement for them.

“I work with families who want to host students and I work with them to find a student who matches their family and their interests,” she explained. “The families have to do all sorts of background checks.”

After the students arrive, Godfrey supervises students and families.

“I am there as a support to the family, the student, and school,” she said.

Supervising often comes with helping students and families understand one another.

“The most common challenges with hosting an exchange student come with the cultural differences and communication,” Godfrey explained. “Communication problems aren’t usually because our students don’t speak English but usually come from different ways of life.”

Godfrey works to explain the cultural differences to families and asks them to practice patience.

“I’ve learned that almost any challenge can be overcome with open, honest, timely communication from both the family and the students,” she said. 

Godfrey has been really enjoying her job, especially learning about different cultures and watching relationships evolve.

“My most favorite part is watching the relationships grow with the students, their families, and their friends,” Godfrey said. “Sometimes you see a student and they come in nervous and shy, and you wonder how they are going to do, but by the end of the year, you see them grow. They are outgoing and they have friends. Their relationships with their families have blossomed. They have learned from the students about their cultures and learned ways they can improve and change their lives.”

Godfrey plans to keep coordinating and hosting students.

“No matter how many students we host, we learn something from each of them,” she said. “This is a way to experience the world without leaving. I also love bringing those things to families who are here.”

Currently, through Godfrey’s agency, four families in Tooele County are hosting students.

Godfrey wants to encourage more families to host exchange students.

 “It’s a really cool experience and it’s not just for one type of family,” she said. “You don’t have to have kids to host. You can have little kids, older kids, or your kids can be all grown up. Any kind of family can host a student.”

Even single parent families are able to host students.

Hosts aren’t paid, but it is a rewarding experience, according to Godfrey.

To learn more or to sign up to host a student, please visit, call Godfrey at 801-367-9089, or email her at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>