My first experience becoming a host parent occurred five years ago.
My daughter’s high school was seeking host homes for cultural-exchange students, and after a brief family discussion, we decided to open our home to a student.
The children come to our country to experience our American culture while continuing their education in an American school.
Understanding that the most important thing we could offer was a safe and comfortable place, we were also eager to share our American customs and experience fun things to do together here with them.
Since the first year, six students have stayed in our home to date.
They have come from various countries, such as, China, Spain and Sweden.
I want everyone to know that the unexpected surprise was some of the things we learned about their cultures. For instance, students in China spend many more hours per week in school than American children.
While driving to New York City one day, a student with us from China exclaimed, “Oh, I forgot my passport at the house,” because they need passports to travel to another city in their country and to check into a hotel.
I jokingly told her that the hotels in America only care about the name of the person who is paying the bill.
I wish I had a camera ready when our student from Spain was told she could attend our high school prom. Her face was a picture of total glee. There is no prom in her country so we learned a prom must only be an American tradition.
We celebrate their birthdays, exchange gifts at Christmas, play board games, do puzzles together, visit museums, see plays and attend concerts. While I enjoy taking care of the children’s basic needs, there is so much to appreciate in learning about their interests and life’s goals.
When the children leave, I make sure they know they have gained a second home in America and will always be welcome here. The experiences have been so gratifying for my 19-year-old daughter that she told me she will also be a host mom when she is able to do it.
If you love children, enjoy experiencing activities that will enhance their time here, and can offer a safe and nurturing place while they are away from their homes and families, please consider becoming a host parent. It will be a life long memorable experience for all involved!