Making new friends and lifelong connections with another culture are just some of the benefits of hosting an international student, says Fiona Green.

Fiona, principal of St Mary's Diocesan School in Stratford, says every year the school welcomes a range of students from overseas for stays ranging from a few weeks to whole terms or even years.

She says the school is looking for families interested in hosting some of the international students they have coming in the next few months.

Families don't have to have any connection with the school to be a host family.

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While many international students board at the school, some overseas families look for the opportunity for their daughter to have a home stay with a local family so as to be fully immersed in the Kiwi lifestyle, she says.

There are students arriving from China in August who would like this experience, and Fiona says she would love to be able to organise homestays for each of them.

Another student has arrived from South Korea who will be boarding at the school but needs a family she can spend a couple of weekends with during term 3 and 4, as well as being able to stay with them during the July and October school holidays.

Fiona says homestay families receive a payment and can make use of the St Mary's school vans which run daily from New Plymouth and Hawera for day students.

Fiona says the benefits of being a homestay family are immense.

"When you host an international student you will also enrich your family's life as you open your home to a new world, learn about another culture, customs and language, and gain a new global perspective of life."

She says by simply sharing day to day life with an international student host families find themselves learning as much as the student does, something she describes as being a life-changing experience for both the student and the host family.

Previous host families have stayed in contact with their student long after they leave New Zealand she says, with connections spreading over many years, and even involving families going to their student's country for a visit in later life.

Interested in being a host family? Contact St Marys School office on 06 765 5333 or email office@stmarysstratford.school.nz for more details.