About US

Cultural Homestay International (CHI) is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1980 by Tom and Lilka Areton. CHI's Mission is 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. To live, study or work together leads to a transformational experience of acceptance and genuine affection. Young people who live with Americans as a family member, participate in the local community, or train in an American business open their minds to the values of volunteering, democracy and freedom. CHI aspires to share the benefits of cultural interchange with the many nations around the world in the deeply held conviction that such exchanges ultimately contribute to a more prosperous and peaceful world.

For close to 40 years, more than 300,000 students and young adults from over 130 countries have come to our shores to participate in CHI's educational and cultural programs, including Academic Year High School exchange, short-term Group Homestay, Au Pair child-care, Internship training, Work & Travel, and Camp Counselor experience. For American students seeking cultural experiences abroad, CHI organizes high school study, language teaching adventures, and work programs in various countries around the globe.

CHI is designated by the United States Department of State as a J-1 visa sponsor, and is a proud member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), World Youth Student Educational Travel Confederation (WYSE Travel Confederation), WYSE Work Abroad, International Au Pair Association (IAPA) and The Alliance for International Educational & Cultural Exchange.

Our People

CHI is justly famous for its caring, professional staff as well as its hands-on management style. Still directed by its founders from the San Francisco area headquarters, CHI continues to inspire with its high quality programs and its dedication to excellence. These qualities distinguish Cultural Homestay International as one of the leaders in the educational and cultural exchange field in North America.

Tom Areton Tom Areton Executive Director, Co-Founder
Lilka Areton Lilka Areton Assistant Director, Co-Founder
Lenka Cernicka Lenka Cernicka Chief Financial Officer
William Murad William Murad Chief Information Officer
Linda Mori Linda Mori Program Development and Compliance Director
Micki Lalonde Micki Lalonde Academic Year, Private High School and Group Homestay Director
Milena Minkova Milena Minkova Work & Travel Director
Kimberley Areton Kimberley Areton Internship & Training Director
Christina Reilly Christina Reilly Au Pair Director
Heidi Smith Heidi Smith World Explorers Manager
Tracy Chayet Tracy Chayet CHI Office Manager
Kristin Chasan Kristin Chasan Communications Coordinator

Who is CHI?