Be Brave. Take Risk. Nothing Can Substitute Experience ~ Anonymous
To my family, I’m strange with some of the things I tend to do. Once, I spontaneously decided to host an exchange student. My family’s response was “who does that, you have nothing else to do was said.” Half of the time that is true, that’s why I come up with all sorts of ideas, (crazy as they may be) and act on them.
Hosting an exchange student happened on a whim. Nothing planned. One day in 2007, I was sitting at my desk and opened the paper and there was an ad about hosting an exchange student. I thought hummm, now that’s different. I don’t know anyone that has ever done that. I’m all about being different in various areas in my life. Blog. Yoga. Meditation. Some of my friends tell me, “you are strange,” what black person does all that? I laugh and tell them strange is good.
An ex-coworker’s son had the opportunity to be an exchange student. It didn’t work out for him, because he didn’t do what he was supposed to do. So the family would no longer host him and sent him back home.
The story is very vague in my mind now because it’s been over ten years. I can remember his mother saying when he left she didn’t know how long it would work because he was lazy with doing chores and following rules.
My story is different. My exchange student was awesome. Her family was very kind folks. Just an all around good family. I had the opportunity to choose from a list of candidates based on their characteristics and the things that interest me. It was in comparison to our life styles, something similar yet different. I had representatives come to my home, to make sure there were suitable arrangements and to see the environment in which she would be living in. Once everything was finalized and approved, we were all set.
In the beginning it was an adjustment because our cultures are so totally different. Our expectations of how families interact with one another are different. Simple things such as sitting down as a family and eating together, instead of everyone doing something different. This made her missed home because she missed that type of interaction. It doesn’t mean our way of living is bad; it’s just a different upbringing.
We did our best to accommodate her while she was staying with us because it was something she was use to doing. It was not something we did on a consistent basis. It was a rare occurrence that we sat down together as a family and shared a meal. She actually had to go visit another friend’s home that she met at school. It was a friend of my daughter’s that she had become good friends with. When she saw it wasn’t just me, that did things this way, she had a better understanding, that it had nothing to do with her. It was just one of those things that our culture didn’t practice on a consistent basis.
I mentioned that I have a daughter. She’s an only child. Yes, the only child syndrome. In the beginning, she was excited about having a sister. Once reality set in, that there was someone else sharing me, the jealousy kicked it. Lol…She was in 10th grade at the time. All that excitement from the beginning turned into her being a spoiled little brat. She enjoyed her; don’t get me wrong, it was that all the attention wasn’t all on her anymore.
I’ll call her Mel, Mel swooped in and became the attention of all of her friends. Lol, everyone loved her. Just like we were learning new things, so were my daughter friends. Everyone was very intrigued to say the least. They loved her accent, her friendliness, her down to earthiness. When she left here, I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad thing, but she knew all of the latest slangs. Whatever, What, My Bad, etc… It was truly hilarious!
I learned many things from her as well. She cooked a dish or two so that we could experience some of her culture. I didn’t’ adjust to the food, but it was a great experience. I tried to learn some of her language that didn’t pan out as well, lol, I believe I learned some small words, but it’s all gone now. She gifted me with a book about Germany’s background. We talked about her family, her goals, and dreams.
We went out to eat and travelled to visit family that lived out of town. It was not a paid program. All that was required of me was to provide a roof over her head and treat her like she was a child of my own. Same rules applied to my own. Even though, in the rules it states they are to pay for their own food when we go out, we didn’t adhere to that. I couldn’t see us paying for our food and leaving her to pay for hers on her own. That’s just not me.
She was a well behaved child. Very organized. Kept her room cleaned. Did her chores. She took care of all of her own needs. She even got her a job while she was here. She exercised on a regular basis, jogging around the neighborhood. A very impressive young lady. She truly left a lasting impression on my family. She’s thought of often and we stay connected via social media from time to time. I even noticed she’s still connected and interact with the many friends she connected with while she was here. Liking a picture or leaving a quick message.
I wouldn’t trade my experience of hosting an exchange student for anyone. I’m glad I didn’t listen to all of the naysayers in my ear. I think after their experience with her, they are probably, glad they got to experience something different as well, because of me. I respected their opinions and they were valid because it truly could have turned out bad. BUT, it didn’t.
A few years later her and her family came back to visit us. I’m praying and hoping I can visit them one day. It’s on my list of things to do. It truly was a memorable event in my life and the life of others that got to enjoy her company.
Have you hosted an exchange student? How did it turn out?
Would you ever think about hosting an exchange student?
Thanks for reading…
Leave a comment and share your thoughts!
Until next time,
Spread your wings and fly…