Hosting Showed Us How We All Have Something to Share

When you open your heart and home to an exchange student, you’re not only inviting them to share their culture with you. You are also allowing yourself to share your community and love with them! For all of us everyday Americans, it can be easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives, to the point where we forget to stop and smell the roses. By welcoming an international teenager into your home, you get to see your neighborhood and area through their eyes. Suddenly things we take for granted are new and exciting, and we learn how much each one of us has to share with each other. This is what host mom Katie Mackelprang in Utah has learned as her family hosts Iñigo from Spain.

Iñigo Roldán Gurpegui_HF Mackelprang (18)

“We first heard about hosting last year when a Local Coordinator called asking if we knew any musical families willing to host a student. My teens thought it would be a great idea for us to be one of those families and we started the process.

Our coordinator had a few students with musical backgrounds for us to choose from. When we read Iñigo's bio, we just knew he was meant to be "ours". He was right in the middle of my two high school-age daughters, he played the saxophone just like my youngest daughter, played a sport like racquetball, liked going biking that my husband loves, enjoyed being outside and going new places like we all enjoy… we just knew he would be a good fit for our family!

And we were right! From the beginning, Iñigo has been upbeat and friendly, easy to be around. He is willing to help out with chores and other household projects, he has been willing to try every new experience, and he has been kind and polite to all he meets. He is genuinely such a gracious and wonderful person. We love spending time with him. He has been adopted as a son/brother by each of us. In fact, some of the favorite memories I have so far are of watching him and my children interact. They laugh and tease each other like siblings. They play pranks on each other, especially since they found out Iñigo jump scares so easily. My oldest daughter regularly hides behind doors or jumps out around corners and yells to make him jump and holler. They have hidden creepy Halloween decorations or baby dolls in each others’ beds to scare each other before bed. 

We have also loved how much Iñigo has helped us stretch and grow as a family. He not only joined the marching band with my girls in the Fall, but he also joined the swim team through the winter and is now in soccer for spring season. Being able to go as a family to support and cheer him on through these activities has been amazing! 

Iñigo Roldán Gurpegui_HF Mackelprang (13)

He cheered on my oldest daughter at home when he could for her wrestling matches through the winter season. He has learned to cook many things here with assignments from his Foods and Nutrition class plus wanting to learn how to make his favorite American recipes. He learned how to snowboard and wakeboard. He did a Polar Plunge at Bear Lake. He has been hiking with the local church group. He dressed up for Halloween and went trick-or-treating. He has been to the local amusement park. He helped put on a baby shower/gender reveal. He keeps his grades high and is proactive in making sure his classes are correct and organized for the program. He is looking forward to traveling to Vegas and Dallas for Spring Break.

We have loved hearing about Spain… their government, their holidays, their food. Seeing pictures from his home and school and surrounding country has been so fun! Iñigo’s family meatball recipe has been recorded in our own family cookbook, it is SO good! Our children have loved talking to his family over video calls. They all want to go over and visit him in Spain after he has to leave us! At Christmas, his family sent a package of traditional Spanish sweets and it was such a fun evening of trying each of them!!!

The marching band was completely new to Iñigo so that was a fun challenge to watch him embrace. He got here on a Saturday night, slept Sunday and then got up early Monday morning to go to band camp. 5 days in a row of 12 hours of band rehearsals… it was tough but he conquered it! Glad he was able to share band with my girls.

Mackelprang family and Iñigo 20231207_160259

I think one of the best things about having Iñigo be part of our family this year has been to learn how many more similarities we have as a human family than differences. And those differences are just that, different… not good, not bad, just different and those are what make us each valuable with something unique and exciting to share with the world.

To anyone looking to host, I would say, DO IT! What a wonderful chance you have ahead of you to open your hearts and homes to the upcoming generation from around the world. It is such a fantastic experience to share your daily routine with someone who finds it magical and intriguing!”

Join families like the Mackelprang’s and discover just how much you have to share with an exchange student, and all the wonderful things they’ll bring to your family! By opening your heart and home to one of these incredible teens, you’re opening up yourself to a world of possibilities and new experiences, and you’re making dreams come true.

Want to learn more?

Complete the form below to be connected with an STS Foundation representative near you!

Hosting Showed Us How We All Have Something to Share

Would you like more information?

"*" indicates required fields

Hidden
Hidden
Name*
Address*