How it Really is to Host an Exchange Student

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By Guest Writer Adele Justice

I thought that hosting an exchange student would not make me feel any different about myself or others. I expected I might learn a few new words or even sharpen up what little facts I know about the world. But, in reality it changed my life.

Sure, I now can say “I love you” in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian. I know a little bit more about the culture and climate of several countries but, far more important than this is something that I can’t say to you in any language.

It’s how incredible it feels to have that first hug at the airport with a stranger that you know is somehow destined to be part of your family for the rest of your life. It’s how it feels to understand someone with your heart when you may not totally understand their language. It’s how happy you feel when your student makes their first gingerbread house, carves their first pumpkin, eats their first Thanksgiving dinner, watches their first Super Bowl game, builds their first snowman or roll their first Easter Egg down a dusty hill. It’s how you feel when they cheer for the school football team, compete in a school sport for the first time or get asked to the prom. It’s how you feel a hole in your heart when they get on the plane to go back to the place they called home and how elated you feel when you Skype with them for the first time or see them when they return to visit you, their “American family.” It’s how you feel when you realize that you have developed a love for a country and a people you once regarded as foreign. It’s how you feel when you watch the news and discover that a people or a nation that is not your own has experienced a bombing or some other act of terrorism. But most of all, it’s how you feel when you realize that in some small seemingly insignificant way, you have done something to promote world peace and make the world a better place by sharing your family with someone that was once a stranger. So, what are you waiting for?

Host families can be families with young children, families with older children or empty nesters. Single-parent families also make great host families. A host family provides access to three meals a day, a place for the student to sleep and study, and an opportunity for their student to experience family life in America.

Benefits of hosting a student are endless. Many families enjoy learning about their students’ culture and traditions while helping the student learn about American traditions and culture. Aspect students are also a valuable educational resource in history, geography and foreign language classes. In most cases, the student becomes an important part of the host family as they develop a life-long relationship. Becoming a host family is easy and as we see the need for global understanding ever increasing in today’s world, it’s a great way to promote international friendships for future generations.

If you would like more information on becoming a host family contact, your local Aspect Foundation International Coordinator Adele Justice at 435-749-1813 or visit www.aspectfoundation.com

“It has been so fun having Cesar stay with us this year. It has certainly been different but with change comes experience and opportunities to learn. We have been surprised at the things our family has learned from having someone from another country and culture live with us. We have learned to look at other people and even situations with a different perspective, which is hard to do in a small community like this. Having Cesar with us has done just that. We’ve noticed our kids being more aware of how others might be feeling or thinking and their communication skills have improved. We’ve noticed them trying to be good examples with homework and helping around the house and with how they treat others. I feel like overall it has been a positive experience for all of us, including Cesar.”

Host Mom, Christy

“I have a really good experience as a foreign student, since the first week my host family treated me like a part of the family, they love, they take care of me and every day in the house is awesome. About the community awesome people they are friendly, open to new people, the students in the school, they are really nice people, they talk to you and help you feel like in home, teachers help you every time, really good people. My year here, well one of the best experiences in my life, I wouldn’t forget my family, my friends and these places.”

Chevy From Columbia

“The first month at US my host family they were at a soccer game and I stay home alone to cook my food but when they leave I saw fire on my pan and thought I’m burning their house. I move the pan to back yard and really watching it. It was really scary for me in that time but now I think it is funny. My host family is very good to me! We like to make fun of this when I am cooking.”

Ploy From Thailand

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