In an era when software and algorithms are used to connect people, PEI-based homestay host Linda Atkinson says Canada Homestay Network’s hands-on approach to matching hosts with international students is refreshing.
“I was so impressed with the matching and it just went from there,” says Linda, who’s been hosting in Montague, PEI for about a year.
Canada Homestay Network’s (CHN) proprietary application and selection process, combined with regular contact, helps local CHN team members personally match the right students with the right host.
It’s how Linda and her family connected with Marina Carmona Gonzalez, a Grade 11 student from Spain.
“I downloaded WhatsApp on my phone and started chatting with Marina right away,” Linda says. “I was able to show her the house and her room and introduce her to my daughter, Beth. I asked her if there was anything she needed, which helped me prepare.”
To make the transition easier, Linda had a welcome package and party for Marina when she arrived.
“I got her a bag of Canadian M&Ms, a stuffed-toy moose and a Canadian key chain. We decorated the porch with red and white streamers and had cake,” Linda says. “If I was 16 and going across the world for a year, I’d want to be welcomed with open arms and treated as a member of the family, too.”
Marina’s fit with the family has been exceptional, says Linda. Her daughter and Marina have bonded like sisters and when Linda’s son came home for Christmas, he was surprised at how well Marina had integrated into the family. Linda recalls him taking her aside and saying, “Mom, I thought it was going to be really awkward having a student in the house. But, my goodness, you couldn’t have done any better!”
Canada Homestay Network is looking for hosts across Prince Edward Island. Hosts get 24/7 support, an allowance to offset expenses and the opportunity to bring the world to their front door.