MIT’s Hosts to International Students Program (HISP) matches incoming international students with MIT faculty, staff, alums, and friends. The program helps students make the transition to US life, gives hosts the opportunity to learn about other cultures and perspectives, and can serve as a springboard for friendships that often last beyond a student’s stay at MIT.
Students in HISP don’t live with their hosts. Instead, they join their hosts in activities that expose them to aspects of US life that they might not otherwise experience; for example, dinner at a host’s home or sightseeing around Boston. Participating in the program is voluntary for both students and hosts.
We limit student participation in HISP to international students who have never lived in the US before coming to MIT and who don’t have close relatives who live in the US. Entering international freshmen are sent HISP applications in the summer before they arrive at MIT.
Frequently Asked Questions for Hosts
Will a student live with me in my home?
The Hosts to International Students Program (HISP) is a friendship program, not a homestay program. Students in the program have their own housing.
What are a host’s responsibilities?
Your main responsibility is to keep in touch with your student. Postcards and email notes are good ways to stay connected. We also ask that you be a supportive friend by inviting your student to a meal in your home or at a restaurant, to visit a museum or attend an event with you, or just to go for a walk.
Who can be a host?
Faculty, staff, administration, alumni/ae, and friends of MIT are all welcome. Single people, couples, single parents, and other families of all sizes are hosts in the program.
How are hosts matched with students?
We ask hosts and students similar questions when they apply to the program (e.g., what do you like to do in your spare time?). You then choose your student by telephone with the program coordinator.
Do I need to live near MIT?
Our hosts come from Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Manchester, Andover, Carlisle, Duxbury, and northern Rhode Island. If it’s convenient for you, it probably will be for your student, too.
What if I don’t have a car?
It’s fine to be a host if you don’t have a car. But you will need to plan activities that are accessible by walking or mass transit.
When do the students arrive on campus?
Most students arrive during the last week of August or the first week in September, a few arrive in June/July, and some arrive in January. We match students with hosts throughout the year.
How much time will I be expected to spend?
The amount of time participants spend together varies. Many participants get together throughout the year. Others spend more time together during MIT vacations and breaks.
Do I make a commitment for a specific length of time?
We hope that you will continue your relationship throughout your student’s stay at MIT. This may be nine months or four years, depending on your student’s program.
What do students do during vacations?
Students go home, travel, or stay in their own on- or off-campus accommodations. If you would like to invite your student to spend all or part of a holiday with you, you may, but this isn’t an expectation or requirement of the program.
What if a match doesn’t work?
We try to make matches that satisfy both the host and the student. If a match doesn’t work, we ask the student and the host to contact the program coordinator so that a new connection may be made.
Do students usually have enough money to pay their own way to events?
Because different students in the program have different financial situations, it’s not possible to assume that each one can afford to pay for outings or events. If you suggest an activity that requires money, we ask that you pay unless you and your student have clearly made another arrangement. (The Calendar section of the Thursday Boston Globe can be a great guide to free activities and events in the Boston area.)
How can I learn more about HISP?
The HISP program sponsors orientation sessions designed to help you learn more about being a host.