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Orientation | How Long? | Can we contact students again? | What is MFWI? | Do I Qualify? |

The Rewards | How do I get involved? | Next opportunity? | Contact us

Read about Homestay from a student’s perspective


What is homestay weekend?

Homestay Weekend is an exciting cross-cultural experience for Japanese university students giving them the opportunity to learn firsthand the activities and lifestyle of an American family.

The students, always assigned to Host Families in pairs, participate in typical family weekend activities. This may include making dinner, shopping, going to a soccer game, visiting relatives, or celebrating a birthday. Students may also choose to accompany their host families to religious services.

“Homestay was a wonderful experience for me…  I could practice my English and share our two cultures.”  From a student

What are host families responsible for?

Host Families extend warm hospitality and safe weekend experiences for our female university and junior college students.

Host Families provide their students with a place to sleep, meals, transportation to and from campus, and an opportunity to participate in as many family weekend activities as possible. You’ll find that hosting our students is just like adding more members to your family. Students follow household rules, and fully participate in all aspects of family life.

Students bring their own spending money for personal needs, souvenirs, entertainment and other incidentals.


“Hosting the students starts out challenging. What shall we do? Can we communicate? How can we put them at ease? Then the weekend becomes a very big blessing! The ladies are so wonderful. We all cried when we said goodbye. We loved them!”

Comments from a spring 2011 Host Family


What is Host Family Orientation?

All host Families attend a Host Family Orientation at MFWI one or two weeks before the Homestay Weekend. During the Orientation, Host Families receive information packets, insights, and advice related to our MFWI students. Host Families are also introduced to their students, giving them the opportunity to become acquainted before the actual Homestay Weekend. This is the time families plan their weekend activities and let the students know what type of clothing to bring, and how much spending money they may need.

Students tell us that this opportunity to meet their Host Family alleviates some of their anxieties about what may be their first American Homestay experience. We encourage our students to share their expectations for the weekend at the Orientation, so activities can be planned accordingly.

“You do a good job in preparing (both host families and students)… The orientation is great…  I especially enjoyed seeing where and how they live while here…”  

from a Host Family


How long is Homestay Weekend?

Host Families pick up their students on either Friday after classes (before 7:00 p.m.) or Saturday morning by 10:00 a.m. and return the students the same weekend on Sunday evening.

This one weekend Homestay experience provides an excellent opportunity for families to participate in this program while making a minimal commitment.

May we contact our students again?

There are many opportunities to see your students again during a session—if the Host Family so desires. In the past, Host Families have invited students back for additional family meals or taken them to community events or shopping. Some have included them in their family holiday traditions, such as Thanksgiving.

However, we realize that Spokane families lead busy lives—do only as much as you are comfortable doing. Your gift of one weekend is precious to us and to the students!

Should you want to schedule more time with your assigned students, you may contact them directly. Or, call the Office of Student Life. We will gladly assist you in arranging times convenient for you and the students.

 “My host family was very kind, so I had a great weekend. I learned a lot by this experience. I want to meet my host family again.”  

From a student

What is MFWI?

Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute, established in 1990, is a branch campus of Mukogawa Women’s University (MWU) in Japan. MWU has graduated over 100,000 students with a variety of majors. The school encompasses Junior and Senior High Schools, as well as Junior College, University, and Graduate programs.

The total immersion program at MFWI is an essential part of the comprehensive English curriculum for English majors at MWU. Approximately 200 students spend 14 weeks in the Fall or Spring semester. A four-week Summer Session welcomes Mukogawa students
of all majors.

MFWI has two Homestay Weekend dates available for each fall and spring session, as well as one Homestay Weekend during the August Summer Session.

How do I know if I'm qualified to host?

If you can provide a room, meals and a warm, caring environment for our students for one weekend, along with lots of  conversation, you have what it takes to be a Host Family. Students do not have to have their own rooms, but they must have their own beds (students can share a full or queen size bed). Host parents must be at least twenty-five years of age, and you will need to submit a host family application and background check form.

Our host families come in all shapes and sizes — from single parent households, to families with small children or teenagers, to retired couples and individuals. We have bilingual staff on call 24 hours-a-day if you ever have concerns while the students are in your home.

MFWI provides you will lots of support material to make your first homestay a huge success!

When you see how quickly your students become part of your family, you’ll understand why the hardest part about hosting is saying goodbye at the end of the session.

What are the rewards of becoming a host family?


IT’S FASCINATING!   Host Families learn so much about Japan and its culture from their MFWI students.  Traditional arts and crafts, songs, children’s games, and cooking as well as a glimpse of everyday Japanese family life are just a few of the things our students offer a Host Family.

Many Host Families report that they also learn more about our own American culture and language as a result of answering the students' questions.

IT’S REWARDING!  MFWI students love and greatly appreciate the opportunity to spend time with an American Host Family.  Homestay Weekend is considered one of their greatest, most treasured memories of America.  Families and students often become friends for life!

IT’S FUN!  Experiencing life with members of another culture gives new perspective to many ordinary situations.  You will always remember the glint in a student’s eye as she rolls out the pastry for her first apple pie or bikes with your family along the Centennial Trail.  You will enjoy meeting her family through her photo album while sharing your own family photos.  Your children will treasure the origami box or bird folded by the students, or giggle remembering their (or your!) first attempt with chopsticks.

Host Families and students alike all remember the farewell hugs!

"I really enjoyed a wonderful weekend. I think that I'll never have an opportunity like this again, so I would like to thank all of you."    -Fall 2008 student


How do I get involved?

If you would like to become part of our Host Family program and share your family with our students, please contact us at the information below. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have and send you the application forms.

                 Mukogawa Ft. Wright Institute
                 4000 West Randolph Road
                 Spokane, WA  99224-5279
                 Telephone:  (509) 232-2071
                 FAX: (509) 325-6540
“Thanks for giving my family such an awesome experience.”   From a host family

When is the next opportunity?


Spring 2016 Homestay Dates:   
March 18-20
March 25-27
April 1-3  
Match-up orientations:  
Sunday, March 13 at 2pm  
Sunday, March 20 at 2pm  





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A chance to experience Japanese culture in your own home
A chance to experience Japanese culture in your own home

Mukogawa students with a homestay family

If you’ve ever wanted the chance to get some international exposure, right here in Spokane, now is your chance.


Each year, the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute in west Spokane hosts hundreds of Japanese students looking to learn more about America.

All of the young women come from Mukogawa Women’s University in Nishinomiya, Japan (Spokane’s Sister City).

Spokane native Nicole Tamura helps coordinate the student’s stays here in Spokane.

“They are here for about 4 months to study English and American culture. Students live on campus in our dormitories and have their meals in our student dining hall. Our homestay program gives our students an opportunity to experience American life outside of campus and dormitory life,” Tamura said.

While the students stay on campus for most of their time in America, the school looks for Spokane families to host two Japanese students for a weekend.

“Our program is unique because we only ask our host families to provide one weekend of their time to show a pair of students what an American family weekend is like. We do not ask families to entertain our students, but just to have them join in on their regular everyday activities such as cooking, shopping or sporting events,” Tamura said.

Mukogawa provides host families with 24 hours of bilingual support and a variety of materials to make their first homestay a success.

Kathy Belisle is the student director at Mukogawa. She says that one of the biggest benefits is that a Homestay Weekend provides a global experience that is outside our usual “local” experiences.

“The cross cultural exposure it provides to families, especially children can have an influence in their development such as greater awareness of our own culture and values and how it relates to becoming broader, more global thinkers and global citizens. I believe it can, many times, even influence the shaping of futures,” Belisle said.

Belisle and her husband have been involved at Mukogawa and have been a host family for 22 years.

“Our program enables families to interact with an international community while promoting cultural understanding. Even though our program only requires one weekend, our students usually feel like they have a second family in Spokane! We have had students come back to Spokane to go to SFCC or EWU and they still spend holidays and weekends with their original host families,” Tamura said.


Nicole Tamura (center) bowling with students







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