We belong to The Friendship Force (www.thefriendshipforce.org), an organization begun by Jimmy Carter in the 1970's. It's a cultural, people-to-people international exchange group. Our group hosts a similar sized group from another country annually and we travel to another group annually. The motto is "Faces not places".
So far, my husband and I have hosted individuals twice from Australia, twice from Russia, twice from Germany and once from New Caledonia. Each has been a wonderful experience! As my husband is still fully employed, we have only managed one visit abroad with the group and that was to Australia.
We are so looking forward to our "outgoing exchange" this October...we are going to Ghana! On this trip we will stay three weeks in country, one with each of three participating families.
During a typical week-long exchange the host shows his guest this local community. It's a bit like hosting your favorite aunt or uncle or cousin who hasn't visited in a long time. You visit the markets, the local museums, the parks, the beach, a local soccer game...and in Haydee's case, we will also visit a bead shop and a yarn shop. But the best times are the meals together! We always have a couple of potlucks with friends, neighbors and some of their fellow travelers. I can't say enough about it....check out the website and see if there isn't a club in your area.