Homestay is in some ways a unique type of organisation, in that we are a business, but we are dealing with situations that involve the personal lives of both host families and students. Therefore, it is important that situations which may arise are dealt with in professional and discrete ways. However, sometimes that can be difficult for all parties involved. Something you may think is an interesting story to pass along, may actually be quite damaging to another person. This is particularly the case where we often have “networks” of family and friends who all host students. Word can travel extremely fast.
When is something considered gossip?
So how does one tell the difference between idle chatter or gossip? While idle chit-chat and other light conversation can be value neutral, gossip is often negative, inflammatory and embarrassing to the person being spoken of. Consider the impact of what is being said. Does it cast negative aspersions? Is it hurtful or damaging? Is it something you would say in front of that person?
Examples and how to deal with them
1. A student comes to you and complains about the host family they live with
a. Remember that you are only hearing one side of the story.
b. Advise the student that if they are unhappy with anything, they need to speak to their school, their homestay company or their Education Agent. This is the quickest way for them to get assistance if required.
2. Your student tells you stories about how other students are behaving badly
a. Explain to your student the dangers of passing on gossip. b. Make sure your student understands what appropriate behaviour is and that your concern is about making sure they are safe.
Points to Remember
• We at Oz Homestay will always give people a second chance – host families AND students. If gossip exists about a particular student or host, this second chance often fails through no fault of the targeted person.
• Finally, before you pass on any gossip, remember that you don’t know what things other people might be saying about you.