Thanksgiving Homestay Program

The 2021 Thanksgiving Homestay Program did not take place in-person due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, we continue to work closely with the five Illinois communities and look forward to connecting students with them again in 2022.

About the Program

You are invited to become part of an American family for the four-day Thanksgiving holiday! Thanksgiving is an American holiday with rich historical significance. It is America’s oldest tradition and a time when families gather together to celebrate. The Thanksgiving Homestay 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. As an international student, you are a guest with a host family in one of our five participating Illinois communities: Geneseo, Morrison, Paris, Prophetstown, and Rock River Valley (Sterling/Rock Falls/Dixon).

The 2019 Thanksgiving Homestay Program was a great success with nearly 100 participants from many different nationalities! Students from University of Chicago, Columbia College, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University, and University of Illinois at Chicago participated, and we hope to expand the program to other local colleges in future years. 

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

International students enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in Paris, Illinois, in 1957. Read the article featured in The College Review here

Questions? Read the FAQs here