Lessons Learned from Hosting an Exchange Student

When you join the thousands of American families that host high school exchange students, you open yourself up to seeing your life and community in new ways. One of the many gifts hosting an exchange student gives families is the opportunity to mix things up! These students bring their own perspective, interests, and customs, and they’re just as eager to share them with you as they are to learn about your own. Host Dad Jason from Texas shares how his exchange student has helped change his family’s routine, and how it’s seeing the joy in his student’s face that means the most.

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“My partner and I learned about STS Foundation and foreign exchange students through a friend in our neighborhood who had hosted last year! It seemed like a great way to give back to both the exchange student and to our local community.

Ironically, Jesse’s profile was the first profile we saw, and kept coming back to it even after we had looked at others. All of the students seemed wonderful, but Jesse just seemed extremely positive and energetic. It also helped that he mentioned he loved animals and sports!

When the time came for Jesse to arrive, Joey and I were both extremely nervous going to the airport to pick him up. However, the second he got off the plane and came to the baggage area, the first question he asked was if he could give us a hug and that broke the ice. We had a fun conversation all the way back to our house about is time at Welcome Camp in New York with the other exchange students. He was extremely excited about being here and ready to play American football! Jesse has remained positive and full of energy and always open for a new adventure. 

In the first few days after Jesse arrived, we made a couple of trips to the mall for him to get items he would need for school. At one point, I had run to the restroom and when I came out, he was standing at the water fountain, scooping the water with his hands. I had no idea what he was doing, and I quickly learned he did not know how to drink from a water fountain. This has since become a fun family joke!

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Jesse has really taught me to slow down and enjoy life, my partner and I have always had a full schedule and always on the go, but from day one, it was important for Jesse to sit down each day and have dinner with us at the table. We have used our table each day since he has been here, and we never regularly had a meal at our dinner table. During this time, we talk about our days, how school/work is going and have really gotten to learn so much about Jesse.

Our lives have been forever changed in a positive way. Jesse is involved in several sports at his school, and it has allowed us to get involved with the school. Additionally, health and fitness is important to Jesse and that has not always been the case for me. Since Jesse’s been here, I have become much more active, and Jesse and I regularly visit the gym together!

It’s hard to pick out one favorite memory so far, we have enjoyed showing him all the different types of foods (he LOVES Tex Mex!), allowing him to see all the different sites around Fort Worth, including the historic stockyards and the rodeo just to name a few. We have also experienced a couple of concerts and have traveled to Chicago for a weekend getaway. I think the answer is just getting to spend time with him and watch the excitement in his eyes each time he gets to see or try something new while building a lifelong memory with us.”

What lifelong memories will you build with your exchange student? The possibilities are endless! Join the STS Foundation community today and find the student that will embrace your family’s traditions, and add a few of their own to the mix. Pick your student out today.

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Lessons Learned from Hosting an Exchange Student

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