High School Youth Exchange & Host Families

Annual High School Youth Exchange Program

OFSCA's most enduring program is the annual homestay exchange between high school students in each city, which began in 1971. Each year, several high school students from one city will stay in the homes of host families in the other city, with destinations alternating each year. Over 1,000 students have benefitted from this cross-cultural experience, with three generations in some families having participated in these exchanges. 

SPRING 2024: OFSCA is currently recruiting host families for Summer 2024 visiting high school students from Fukuoka, Japan! See below for the application information. An online information session will be held on Zoom for potentially interested families in the Oakland, CA area - register online at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYtdemvrD0sGNAq-J4t4zPh0iAt8mLNX929.

The next Youth Exchange from Oakland to Fukuoka will be in Summer 2025. Applications will open in Fall 2024.

Photo & Video Gallery

View our photos and our YouTube video of the program. 

Summer 2024 High School Exchange - Japan to California (July 26-August 6)

Join OFSCA as a host family for incoming exchange students in our Youth Exchange program. We need homestay families to join us to host a student during the 2024 Fukuoka group visit (anticipated dates Friday, July 26 through Tuesday, August 6, 2024). For more information, contact ofsca1962@gmail.com or the 2024 program coordinators for OFSCA, Gary Tominaga (gttominaga@comcast.net) or Jason Lambert (tonkatsudog@gmail.com).

Host Families do NOT need to live within the City of Oakland.

Host Families

The City of Fukuoka brings students from high schools to learn more about life in the United States every other year. The program focuses on education and community, with special English language classes several mornings. During the afternoons, community tours and activities acquaint the students to life in Oakland and the Bay Area. OFSCA will be looking for host families for all the students. This is also a great opportunity for a local high school student who may want to participate in the next year (to go to Fukuoka) by making a Japanese friend. Students will typically have basic conversational English skills. Families that speak English (and/or Japanese) at home are welcome. If your family speaks a language other than English at home, you are also welcome as long as you will be able to communicate in English (preferred) and/or Japanese with the student.

If you are interested, please download our questionnaire and mail it to OFSCA at ofsca1962@gmail.com.

Join OFSCA as a host family for incoming exchange students in our Youth Exchange program. We need homestay families to join us to host a student during the 2024 Fukuoka group visit (Friday, July 26 through Tuesday, August 6, 2024). For more information, contact ofsca1962@gmail.com or the 2024 program coordinators for OFSCA, Gary Tominaga (gttominaga@comcast.net) or Jason Lambert (tonkatsudog@gmail.com).

Typical host family responsibilities include:

All afternoon events will be open to the host families. We welcome host family volunteers to join us on the excursions if available. A farewell party is planned on the final Sunday of the exchange.

Families interested in serving as a host family will need to complete a Host Family Application or contact us at ofsca1962@gmail.com.

Host Family 2024 Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of home do I have to have? / What if I have kids / have adult children / don't have children / have pets at home? 

All kinds of homes are open to becoming host families. Previous host families have lived in single-family homes, apartments, condos, multi-generational homes, etc. in Oakland, CA and nearby towns/cities. You do not need to have a giant house, special facilities, a "picture-perfect" home, etc. 

Students must have their own bed (a separate bedroom is not required, but if sharing a bedroom with another member of your family, a child under 18 of the same gender). Please contact us by email if your situation is more complex/nuanced and we can discuss this with you directly - ofsca1962@gmail.com. We welcome diverse family situations and are happy to chat!

Families with children of their own are especially encouraged, and host families are given priority consideration for future Oakland-to-Fukuoka exchange opportunities. Families without children / empty nesters are also welcome. 

Families with pets are welcome - some of our exchange students may be animal lovers, while other students may need a host family without pets due to allergies or other situations. Talk to us if you have any concerns!

All host families must pass a background check for the safety of our participants.

Families are requested to be available as a host family for the full duration of the visit (July 26-August 6, 2024). While you may take students on a day trip if desired, we request that you remain reasonably near the SF Bay Area or discuss special circumstances with us. For more complex/nuanced circumstances, please contact us to discuss this directly - ofsca1962@gmail.com

What do I do with an exchange student? What kind of food / activities / entertainment am I expected to provide? Will this be expensive?!

The first priority for a host family is to provide a warm, welcoming, safe home for our visiting students for the length of their visit. It is exciting and interesting for an exchange student to experience what you may think of as typical daily life in the U.S. - cooking at home together, taking a walk around the neighborhood or city, walking a dog, playing a recreational sport or game, visiting local parks or museums, exploring local shops or restaurants. 

There is no fee to be a host family. You will not be paid to be a host family. The financial costs to your family typically limited to the meals and incidentals you must provide the student, your daily transportation, and the cost of any recreational activities you choose to offer to the student -- for full details or more questions, contact us at ofsca1962@gmail.com and we can share with you past host family experiences.

You will receive in advance a profile from your incoming exchange student that shares information about their likes and hobbies. For example, one past exchange student mentioned an interesting in seeing what American colleges are like, so her host family planned a day trip to see UC Berkeley or Stanford University campus. Another student told his host family he loved animals, so they planned a weekend day trip to the Oakland Zoo. Almost all students are excited to visit a mall or shops, especially to find souvenirs to bring home for family and friends before they return to Japan (which is often expected of them, so please offer if possible to take them shopping somewhere -- even stores like Target can be an adventure!).

You can also join in with the other 2024 host families for joint activities - the students from Fukuoka may not already know each other well, so this is a chance for everyone to make friends and share the fun and planning!

While some families may choose to do something such as purchase a ticket for the student to join the family for an amusement park or sports event, other families may prefer to focus on free or low-cost activities. As a general rule, do not ask your student to pay for their own admission to paid activities that you choose, transportation, or pay for food at a restaurant/café, although the student may have some spending money for their own shopping or purchases. Clear communication makes for a positive experience for everyone, and our OFSCA organizers and the Fukuoka chaperones can help with communication if needed. 

On weekdays between 9am-5pm (typically), OFSCA volunteers will take charge of your students, taking them on day trips around Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Students will participate in cultural exchange activities, visit local sites (a complete schedule is provided to all host families), and learn about our city and culture. Host family members are sometimes welcome to join these programs if interested and available.

You do not need to spend a lot of money to make an exchange student's trip a worthwhile experience. Your financial responsibility is simply to provide the student with the required number of meals per day (and any snacks or beverages), give them a clean and safe place to stay, and make them feel welcome in the United States. 

Do I have to speak Japanese? 

You do not have to speak Japanese language to have a Japanese high school exchange student. As long as you are willing to communicate in basic English and help the student feel welcome and try to understand (or contact us or the students' chaperones for assistance if needed), you are welcome to apply as a host family!

What do the Japanese exchange students eat? How often do I have to feed them?

The Japanese exchange students understand that at your home, they may be trying new and unfamiliar foods and experiencing cultural exchange through meals. Students can eat what your family eats whether that is food from your own cultural backgrounds, typical "American family" lunch or dinner, etc. You will receive a student profile for your host student that includes any dietary information you might need to know such as food allergies but typically most students are able to eat most foods. (Please remember that the high school students are teenagers, and perhaps offer snacks outside of meal time if appropriate or encourage them to let you know if they are hungry.) 

Host families must feed the students breakfast and dinner on all weekdays, and may occasionally be asked to provide a bagged lunch for certain excusion days. For weekends, host families must feed the students breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A joint farewell party with a meal is hosted by OFSCA on the final day of the exchange.

If your family follows a special diet (vegetarian, vegan, etc.) this is usually not a problem. If you have other concerns (for example: keeping kosher or other religious dietary practices at home, not eating meat or animal products at home, wondering about meals because you usually eat takeout or prepared meals, etc.) , or if you have concerns or questions, please contact us at ofsca1962@gmail.com and we are happy to chat with you! 

What if someone gets sick or we have some kind of family emergency?

Our OFSCA host families receive detailed information on unexpected circumstances, and we will discuss this with families and ensure that you have emergency contacts for OFSCA organizers and the student chaperones. If you have specific questions, please contact us at ofsca1962@gmail.com

Summer 2023 High School Exchange - California to Japan

The 50th Annual Oakland-Fukuoka High School Student Exchange Program is expected to take place June 29 - July 10, 2023. Current Oakland high school students are invited to apply to participate in this 10-12 day program in Fukuoka, Japan.  Applications are now open and space will be limited to 6 students. APPLICATIONS WERE DUE MARCH 10, 2023. Interviews with applicants will be scheduled in the weeks following the deadline. 

Files are available to download below (button opens the Google Drive link).

Student Participants

The 50th Annual High School Student Exchange was scheduled from Thursday, June 24 to Monday, July 5, 2021. To be eligible to participate in the student exchange, you must be either in high school, entering high school in the fall of 2020, or have just graduated in the summer of 2021. Participants will be selected based on the applications, including an essay, and a short interview. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Japanese culture and language, and many students make lifelong friendships. The application form is available below. 

Please note that due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the high school exchange for 2020 did not take place. For updates on the status of the 2021 and 2022 exchange programs, contact ofsca1962@gmail.com or join a General Meeting each month.