What Hosting An Exchange Student Taught My Family

While over 30,000 American families host exchange students each year, each experience is unique! The same can be said for families who have hosted more than once. No matter your hosting story, it can be said that you learn a lot while also teaching you exchange student many things as well. Host mom Jill shares how hosting again years after her first time was a new experience, and all the things her family learned from having an international young person in her home.

Jill Power 322489079_1830008790696612_7873267806930267133_n

“We first hosted a student from Germany through STS Foundation in 2016-2017. Then this past summer we had been praying about something our family could do that would really impact others and we decided to have an exchange student again! Our triplets were in 3rd grade the last time we hosted, and they really didn't remember much about the experience. They were all in favor of bringing someone to the US!

As soon as we saw Carla's video and read her bio, we knew she would fit in our family! We picked her almost 6 weeks prior to her coming to the US. We had a video call weekly, so there was a terrific opportunity to get to know her before she got here. Additionally, she and our triplets connected on social media, so they spent a lot of time texting!

Carla was such an easy kid and just so thankful for everything. My favorite memories with her are no doubt all the time we spent together in the kitchen. She loved to be with me when I cooked! We would talk about food in Spain and how different it was from what we eat. She gave me a cookbook from her region, and I tried to replicate some of the dishes! She and I also spent many hours playing cards and games. I loved her competitiveness! My kids would probably say their favorite memories with Carla revolved around all of their conversations and movie-watching! I can’t tell you how many nights I would hear the 4 of them laughing late into the night while watching movies. 

Carla was always up for any new adventure! She loved seeing anything new and loved going everywhere! She especially loved anything representative of what you would picture about Texas. For example, she loved going to Fort Worth to the Stockyards.

Jill Power 321730871_1810979255961891_7813451756157089116_n

We learned so much about Spanish culture from Carla. We also learned-really we already knew it, but it was eye-opening-how stressful and busy the American lifestyle is. School in Spain is about academics, not extracurricular activities. She was always so shocked at how busy life is here and how many activities there are for our kids. She taught us about the traditions from her region, her food, her school, and her family. We used Google Earth to ‘fly into’ her hometown and see her apartment! Her way of life in Spain is very different from ours.

There is no one ‘moment’ that stands out to me, but just a series of things! We were just so intentional with her and tried to make the most of the time she was here. I tell you, I sure do miss her laughter! It warmed the whole house. I know she will forever be a part of our family, and I am so happy that we hosted again. As with any teenager, there are hard moments, but those pale in comparison to the impact we had on each other’s lives.”

What new things will you learn when you host an exchange student, and what things will you share with them? Explore your community and see it through a new lens, all while finding new things to appreciate that you may have taken for granted. Learn more about becoming a host family today.

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What Hosting An Exchange Student Taught My Family

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