Consider the trust implied in the somewhat flippant title. With a teacher exchange, you’re establishing that level of trust with a complete stranger on the other side of the planet in the few months before the exchange takes place.
My home insurance provider said to me, “oh, not to worry… you have reciprocal collateral.”
That makes it sound like a hostage situation, and, of course, there is more to it than that, but it is a starting point for building that relationship. This, in addition to the myriad logistical elements such as:
Managing the furnace / air conditioner, the water/sewer, the electric bills, the water softener, the heat-recovery ventilation system, the thermostat, the lawn tractor, the coffee maker, the home theater remote controls… Aaah!
What will the people living in our house need to know?
What will we need to know about their home?
How much to prepare – how much to share without seeming condescending?
Open dialogue prior to exchange – as much as it is about trust, it’s about openness, confidence, and preparation. What do I know about rodents and poisonous spiders? What do they know about winterizing and frostbite? Prevention is preferable to intervention, so deal with the issues beforehand but be available to help while away. That’s how we’ll approach things. Over-preparing could be perceived as condescending but it is not an insult to give or receive information that might seem completely obvious, rather consider it a show of respect. In telling this information, and in receiving it, we will be better prepared; I want the exchange experience for both of us to be as successful as it can possibly be; preparation and communication will contribute to that goal.
It’s a great trust we share: to care for the greatest asset we have – our homes. It is a great life experience we enable for each other by developing this relationship.