When the idea of hosting an exchange student for a year came to my mind witnessing a friend host for a few years, there were fear and also uncertainty. When I showed few sample letters to my two daughters, they jumped with excitement and said “yes Mommy, let’s have a big sister”. My oldest said, “for once I don’t have to be the oldest child.” And my little one just thrilled to have a teen sister. My husband also agreed, which is not a surprise. Bless his heart; he always is supportive of most of my crazy suggestions and ideas.
But here is a secret – I had many selfish reasons to select you as a host daughter. I saw in your profile, you loved to sing and were part of the choir in your school. Both of my daughters love to sing so that was a plus. I also noticed you were the top three students in your class and was doing special courses in math and sciences. I needed my girls to look up to someone who intellectually inspires them. More importantly, I wanted to show them Asian culture of respect and politeness that I find very difficult to teach and share with. But the best of all, I really wanted to enjoy my favorite Thai cuisine with someone who is a native of Thailand.
So we chose you, but there was that insecurity, will you choose us? We are not a picture perfect family. We live in a chaotic lifestyle of travel, work, extracurricular activities; and I am a little eccentric in certain ways (you know what I mean: “no you can’t throw food”, “no you can’t shop too much”, “no you cannot buy plastic bottles”, “no you cannot eat this and that”, “no you cannot go out in the snow without coat”) and do lose my temper once in a while. Despite all this fear and insecurities, we decided to include you to our family. There was less expectation but more of a fear of adjustment. Our society tends to be individualistic and private and it was going to be a huge change.
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Your entry was very cheerful. You became one of us immediately. You smiled a lot, and just knew what to say when I needed few words of kindness. You were there for your two little rumbustious host sisters, who rode bikes, painted nails, play board games and did homework with you. At the very least, they preferred to spend more time with you than us. You also did not have any trouble making friends and thrived very well in your new school, and had an active social life.
Here are the things you gave us:
You gave us timeless opportunities to go watch Wheeling Park High School shows; you gave us peace of mind when I was running home late from work knowing you will be home when girls get off the school bus; you gave us a helping hand in the kitchen; with homework, and teaching my girls that GPA of 4.0 is attainable, and that you can enjoy school work. You taught them Thai and German. You taught us that we are “Ok” as a family and have that ability to just open our home and hearts to someone who we have never met before. You listened and agreed to what I had to say. Whenever I asked, “what would your mother do?” You always answered in a way that made me feel OK.
Now it’s almost time for you to reunite with your family. I can’t imagine how fast these 10 months went by, and how we felt that you always lived with us. But most importantly, we don’t know how we will continue our day to day life without you. Your host sisters will miss you a lot. Yes, we have lots of memories of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, family trips, Homecoming, Prom and many more, but now it seems as if that was normal. I hope we met your expectations as a host family and that you learned a lot about American culture. I hope this experience has made you a better person. It certainly taught us a lot about ourselves. I hope we get to visit you soon, may be graduation, or wedding? We want to thank you for being such a wonderful daughter/ sister to us. We were really LUCKY that we got to host you for a short amount of time. Come back soon!
Your host family.
Are you interested in hosting an exchange student? Contact us at email@example.com and we can help put you in touch with the right people.