Intercultural learning of hosting families


Ida Castiglioni

University of Milan - Bicocca

Professionals in the field of exchange education have known for a long time the challenges of students and host families in making this experience a mutually satisfactory one.
Most of the research has focused on the adaptation of students, their level of intercultural learning, their improvement of intercultural sensitivity over the sojourn span, their global engagement as a result of the intercultural experience.
However, the other side of the exchange, at least for most high school level exchanges, is the homestay family. The little research around homestay families has mainly tackled the issues of their role in making the exchange experience a success or around psychological dynamics occurring in the families. Other research has only tangentially touched the families as part of the equation together with other pivotal subjects such as schools, teachers and peers. None of this research has focused on the intercultural learning of families, despite the fact that it is one of the main motivations reported for accepting a foreign person into one’s own home, both in this research and as reported in other ones.
For this reason, this research has exclusively focused on 1) the family members’ cultural selfawareness, 2) the extent to which they were able to understand the ‘guest’ culture, 3) the capacity to transfer learnt intercultural knowledge and skills into their professional and everydaylife, and 4) the perceived need to share issues and the complexity of the experience with other families undergoing the same process.


Castiglioni, I. (2018). Education for Global Citizenship in Homestay Families. A Pilot Study in Lombardy, Italy. Scuola democratica(3), 501-522

Intercultura quarterly N° 65

Conferences and presentations
Colle di Val d'Elsa, 28-29 ottobre 2011 (Forum on Intercultural Learning and Exchange)