Away From Home for the Holidays

Each year more than 300,000 people from around the world come to the United States on cultural exchange programs to study, work, and experience life in America. One of the highlights for exchange participants is often celebrating holidays with U.S. host families, from cookouts on the Fourth of July to turkey feasts on Thanksgiving in November.

For Americans, this time of year is known as the holiday season, so we asked exchange participants to share their favorite holiday exchange moment with us. Here are some of their responses.

Some got into the holiday spirit by volunteering and attending holiday parties.

While others see the holidays as a thoughtful opportunity to share their culture with Americans.


Still others, find it fascinating to partake in American traditions, like meeting Santa Claus, trimming trees, drinking hot chocolate, or for those in DC, visiting the National Christmas Tree.

Of course, the holidays are mostly for spending time with “family."


#YES student Katarina getting in the Christams spirit with her host brothers in Kennewick, Washington, where she's placed. [Facebook photo by American Councils for International Education in Boznia and Herzegovina]

"I do not know how to say all my thanks to my host parents for opening to me their hearts and becoming my first and best host-family. It makes me cry when I think of leaving them in June, but it makes me cry from happiness because I have these wonderful people in my life. And y'all who read this post and think about being an exchange-student or hosting an exchange-student, it is worthy! I swear it will be the best time in your life! I am happy to be the part of Provis family and even more happy that I will stay its part for all my life!" [Flex Program Photo/@marina__barysheva_]

Happy Holidays! Are you celebrating the holidays away from home this year? Share your photos with us using #ExchangeOurWorld.

About the Author: Lauren Aitken is a Social Media Producer with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.



Chaitali R.
December 26, 2016

Christmas gift i got from my parents and friends. its a reflection of thier love. they are my pride

A child stands near a lit Christmas tree. [Photo by Courtesy of Bilal Khan]
Posted by Lauren Aitken
December 23, 2016


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