GSE: Host an Exchange Student

Every year GSE hosts a group of exchange students from Nicaragua and Ecuador as part of our Reciprocal Exchange.


Every year GSE hosts a group of exchange students from Ecuador and Nicaragua as part of our reciprocal exchange. Students stay with host families in two different counties (7-8 days with each host family) and engage in a month of activities focused on collaborative projects with GSE students in Northern California.  The exchange reunites friends, brings new momentum to local projects, and often is the first time that visiting students have been to another country.

Local Service Projects

Student ambassadors visit each of GSE’s project sites and get involved with local students in the planning, maintenance, and expansion of projects.  Many of GSE’s projects have been catalyzed during our local exchanges including the building of 2 food forests, expansion of numerous school garden projects and the reforestation of native trees and shrubs across the greater Bay Area.


Student ambassadors are selected to represent their communities based on excellent leadership and participation in their GSE programs. Our visiting students give presentations about GSE projects in their home community to students at local elementary, high schools, and universities. These presentations and discussions give students the opportunity to tell about their country, their culture, their youth leadership experiences, and themselves.  GSE works to break stereotypes and remove cultural barriers through building friendships, working together and representing our local cultures.

Exploring Communities

In between school visits and work on local projects, students visit the Sonoma Coast and the Redwoods. We take a trip to the Bay Area to see the amazing murals in the Mission, walk the golden gate and explore the city. Trips spark conversations about ethnic, social and economic dynamics of the area and of the larger U.S.



Having a host student is a privilege and a joy, but does come with responsibility. Families who are hosting a student are expected to:

  • Pick up their exchange student from a central location at the start of the exchange.
  • Provide a bed for the entirety of the 8-day exchange.
  • Provide three meals per day to the students when they are home (including a packed lunch during the weekdays).
  • Entertain students during ‘free’ weekend days.
  • Participate in carpools to get students to the different exchange locations.

Rough Itinerary

Thursday 3/1- Friday 3/2
Orientation/training in San Francisco

Friday 3/2- Sunday 3/4
Leadership Convergence at Marin Headlands Hostel

Sunday 3/4- Sunday 3/11
Homestays in Santa Cruz (4 students 1 teacher), Contra Costa (4 students 1 teacher), Alameda (4 students)

Sunday 3/11
Homestay swap day and potluck– SF/Ocean Beach

Sunday 3/11- Monday or Tuesday 3/19 or 3/20
Homestays in Marin (6 students 1 teacher) and Sonoma (6 students 1 teacher)

To apply to host a student in March, please fill out the following form: