Cultural Homestay International
Cultural Homestay International

Opening doors to the world since 1980


CHI is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1980 by Tom and Lilka Areton to promote international understanding and goodwill through people-to-people exchanges. We believe that the best way to build bridges of friendship and trust among people is to experience directly each other’s customs, languages and values. CHI aspires to share the benefits of cultural interchange with the many nations of the earth in the deeply held conviction that such exchanges ultimately contribute to a more prosperous and peaceful world. Read more...

We are CHI

About CHI

What We Do

CHI brings people together. We promote and coordinate exchange experiences through a variety of programs both in the United States and abroad for individuals, host families and host businesses. Learn more about what CHI does and find the program that is right for you.

CHI Blog

Read amazing exchange stories from all of our programs on our CHI News Blog. Updated often, you can read real experiences from our participants, host families and host businesses. View exciting photos and firsthand testimonials of how lives have been changed through cultural exchange.


The history of CHI starts with the story of Tom and Lilka Areton. Tom, CHI’s Co-founder (with Lilka), arrived in the United States from Czechoslovakia in October 1968. Lilka was born in Brooklyn and raised in Toms River, New Jersey. On November 1st, 1980, Tom and Lilka opened "California Homestay Institute."

Our People

CHI is managed by multi-talented and versatile directors and managers. They guide the tone by which all CHI’s passionate and caring staff conduct the business. CHI’s headquarters is located in San Anselmo, in beautiful Marin County, California. The rest of CHI’s family is spread throughout the U.S., where our dedicated staff provides outstanding program support.

Featured Programs

World Explorers

Experience the excitement of living in another country with a host family by signing up for our World Explorers program. As a World Explorer you can go almost anywhere and stay with a host family for 1, 2 or 3 months.


As one of the leading Au Pair Agencies, CHI Au Pair USA values customer service and one-on-one attention to our families. We provide a diverse selection of highly screened applicants from around the world who all share a love for children.

Work & Travel

CHI Work and Travel program offers overseas university students the opportunity to intimately experience work, life and culture in the U.S. during their summer holiday period. Overseas participants are sponsored by CHI, enabling them to legally work in the U.S. up to four months.

Academic Year

Opening your heart opens a high school exchange student for 5 or 10 months! Every year high school-aged youth from over 30 countries around the world participate in CHI's high school foreign exchange program.