International and Immigrant Student Homestay Host Families
In the past two years, we have hosted four international students from different countries. Each one of them brought to our home different experiences. Becoming a host family has been a tremendous learning experience. Being a Colombian-American couple without children gives us time and allows us to understand cultural issues and be receptive to differences. Our current host daughter has become part of our family; we do not want to think of the day that she needs to move out! She has been with us for the last 18 months and we love her as our daughter. We care a lot about her, regarding her education, acculturation in the USA and all other issues related with her well-being. We believe that the key for an excellent relationship with an international student is to set up rules in the family from the very beginning; doing this during the first month of stay will facilitate a very close relationship and understanding in the future. In summary, we love international students and make them feel at home while they are staying in our house. -Patricia, host parent
Opening your home and heart to a young person and making her a part of your family seems simple and straightforward enough. Everyone benefits. You learn about another culture, you see your own country through new and different eyes. You share wonderful experiences as you teach your host daughter about life in the United States. But slowly and so quietly that you don't really notice, a bond starts to form that by the time you realize what is happening, you find you have lost your heart to this young person and the thought of saying goodbye to her becomes unbearable. But like all good mothers, you want the best for your child and so you begin to accept that your new daughter is going to soon fly away and your life is changed forever. I think that what I want to share with you is what I enjoyed the most about the experience. I loved doing things together, I enjoyed meeting new people whenever she brought her friends home. I loved trying new foods, going out with her friends. But what I cherish the most are the long and quiet conversations that she and I shared. Just the two of us, after dinner or late in the evening, we talked. We talked about her life and childhood, my life and childhood. We talked about problems we faced during the day or problems from long ago. We learned how differently our cultures viewed some things, and yet how similar we were in what we wanted for ourselves and those we loved. Mayumi shared the wisdom she learned from her grandmother. She would tell me what her mother or grandmother would say to her in troubled times, when I was troubled. We learned how much you can say to another individual regardless of how well you speak their language. Sometimes we giggled like little kids or laughed so hard we cried, sometimes we shared real tears of sorrow. Those wonderful conversations will be with me a lifetime.-Kathy, Host
When we were first getting ready for our host student, Shoira, I was very nervous. I wanted everything to be perfect and for her to like me. When she first got here, I was really shy and didn't know what to say to her. In the beginning, it was like having a guest in our house. I felt a little awkward. My sisters and I were also more polite and nicer to each other than usual. That didn't last too long. In a short time Shoira started to see who we really are and we all felt really comfortable having her in our home. I came to realize that it wasn't all about making her experience here perfect but it was about making her experience be something she would remember. I really learned a lot from Shoira while she was staying with us. I learned about what it is like to live somewhere other than North America. I realized that in the U.S. we have lots of material things that we take for granted. I also came to learn that it's not always about getting what you want but appreciating what you have that is important. Shoira has returned home now. Saying goodbye to her was really hard because it was like losing a sister when she left. We stay in contact with her by email and by calling her on the phone. I really do hope that Shoira will be back to see us or that I will travel someday to see her.
-Gaby, age 12