Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12



Host International Program

Teacher and students baking and smiling

The Pennington School’s Host International Program (HIP) matches international students who are boarding at Pennington with families of current Pennington day students. The program is designed to help students transition to life at a boarding school in the United States, and it allows local students to experience other cultures and perspectives. The Host International Program creates a bond for these students that will enrich them throughout their time at Pennington.

International students who participate in the program do not live with their host families; instead, they and their hosts participate in various activities together when school is in session. These activities expose international students to aspects of life in the United States that they may not experience otherwise. The School facilitates many of these opportunities, but the host family also provides some experiences for their international student. Suggestions include, but are not limited to, occasional dinners with the host family; attendance at religious services; invitations to family picnics or gatherings; movie nights; sports event outings; or trips to see a show in New York or Philadelphia.

We hope that local parents will consider taking part in this wonderful opportunity! If you currently host a student, we thank you and encourage you to sign up again. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Director of International Student Services Judy Rossi at 609–737–6147 or by email at The application to become a host family is available to download.

Host Family responsibilities

  • Meet with the student and his or her family during the opening week of School and registration. For new international students, host families should be on campus to say hello when the students arrive at Pennington for the first time. The date for welcoming events for 2018-19 is September 2.
  • Establish a relationship with the student(s) you are hosting by:
    summer contact via phone, email etc.,
    weekend visits,
    attendance at school activities when you are available (e.g. fall play, soccer game, Convocation),
    letters or postcards to stay in touch over breaks,
    monthly check-in with the student,
    School-sponsored host family/international student events.
  • Reach out to the student’s parents to inform them that you are serving as the host family and help build rapport so they feel comfortable.
  • Keep in touch with the School to periodically check in about the status of the host family/international student relationship.
  • Complete a survey sent out by the School at year-end. This information helps us continue to build the program.
  • Keep in contact with your international student over the summer.

Frequently asked questions

Will the student live in my home?

No. Students are full-time boarding students at Pennington and have their own housing. We ask that host families invite their host student to join them periodically for a holiday, family event, or a weekend. Families are not obligated to host overnight; however, if you choose to invite your student for an overnight, that is perfectly welcome and appreciated.

Is the host family the same thing as a guardian?

No. Guardians are individuals living in the United States who serve as the emergency contact for the School and are the point of contact between the family living in another country and the student living at school. Guardians act on behalf of the student’s parents and are authorized to sign documents for the student or deal with any issues about student performance. Host families do not have these responsibilities as they are serving as a friend to the student to acclimate them to family life in the USA.

What are a host family’s responsibilities?

The simple answer is that host families keep in touch with their students to help them feel welcome and transition successfully to life in the USA. We ask that families be supportive of the students who are far from home and that they invite them to get together at various points during the course of the academic year. The School will provide some key dates and suggestions, but the host family ultimately makes the schedule.

How does the School match hosts with students?

We do our best to match according to grade, interests, and gender. Although we do not always pair boys with boys or girls with girls, we do our very best to match up students who have similar interests. Host families will have the option to host the same student for the duration of their careers at Pennington.

What if a match doesn’t work?

If a match doesn’t work, we ask that the student and/or the host family contact the Director of International Student Services in order to make other arrangements.

May a family host more than one student, and may we request specific students?


What are the financial responsibilities of becoming a host?

It is not necessary for a host family to spend money. Home-cooked meals, time off-campus, and conversation with an American family are the greatest opportunities for our international students. Students have spending accounts, so if the host family wants to take the student to a museum or a movie, the student would be able to pay his or her own way. Host families are permitted to cover expenses; however, this is not an expectation.

Want to be a host family?

Fill out this application and return it to Judy Rossi, director of international student services.