Thanksgiving Homestay Program

About the Program

Thanksgiving is an American holiday with rich historical significance. It is America’s oldest tradition and a time when families gather together to celebrate. You are invited to become part of an American family for the four-day Thanksgiving holiday. You will be a guest with a host family in one of our six participating Illinois communities: Geneseo, Morrison, Paris, Prophetstown, Rockford, and Sterling-Rock Falls. The 2017 Thanksgiving Homestay program will take place from Wednesday, November 22, 2017 through Sunday, November 26, 2017.

This four-day Thanksgiving holiday trip is administered through International House at the University of Chicago. The buses leave from International House on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving to take you to your community and host family, and return to International House on Sunday at approximately 6:00 p.m. You are responsible for your own transportation from your home or University to and from International House.

The International Thanksgiving Program was founded in 1956 by Trudy Trogdon of Paris, Illinois. Trudy was inspired to promote international understanding by organizing a program designed to bring international students to live with American families for the Thanksgiving holiday. Over many years, the program has grown to include numerous communities throughout Illinois who extend an invitation to international students to join their families in celebrating this holiday weekend.

How to Register

If you would like to participate in this program:

  • Download the registration form. Please fill out the application form completely, and type or print legibly.
  • Spouses and children are welcome and family groups will stay together in the same host family home. Please list the name, age, and sex of each family member on the application card as this information will help us to make appropriate assignments.
  • Please enclose a check for $35.00, which will cover administrative costs. This fee is non-refundable. There is no other cost for this program. Checks should be made payable to International House.
  • Please return the completed application with your $35.00 program fee by the deadline on the application. Late applications will not be accepted.

Upon receiving your application, we will send you a confirmation letter with further information about the program and directions to International House.

Applicants must also be 18 years of age or older; you must be a registered student at an accredited academic institution or professional school in the Chicago area; and you must have resided in the U.S.A. for less than four years.

Join the fun!

Take part in this unique opportunity to experience American family life. For more information about the program contact the international student adviser at your school or contact the Office of Programs and External Relations at International House. We look forward to your participation in the 2016 program!

Participant Testimonials

“I have had an amazing experience and I guess that I made friends for life. I felt like being in my own family and that’s nice when you’re a stranger.” – Tine Panhozer, Germany

“My host family represented what is best and beautiful about this country. They opened their hearts and home to me and made me feel like I was part of their family. This was an unforgettable experience that I will always treasure. I will recommend this program to all my other international friends.” – Maria D. Liwag, Taiwan

“My home stay has been wonderful for me because it permits one to know how some American families are hospitable as African families.” – Daoudaz Mariko, Mali

“I have been in Chicago for two more years. By this trip, I found people are different between city and town. People are nice and close here. My family had a good time with my host family. They provided clean rooms, good food, and spent a lot of time with us. We became friends.” – Richang Xia, P.R. China

About International House

International House of Chicago was founded in 1932 through a gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. It is a program center for students from around the world. Each year the House provides continued support and programs to graduate students  – about half from countries other than the United States – who are pursuing academic and professional degrees, preparing in the creative or performing arts, or training with international firms at one of numerous institutions in the Chicago area. The mission of International House is to enable students of different nationalities and cultures to learn together in a community that builds mutual respect, understanding, and life-long friendship.