Adding more stories to our lives
We have so many stories to tell from our year with our first exchange student, Elisa from Germany. We had never thought about hosting a student until an ICES representative at our school said that she had someone who would fit in perfectly with our family. So, we took a leap of faith and decided to host.
We were not sure what to expect having a total stranger come live with us for a year. The fact is that it is such a life changing experiencing to host a student. You can just see how she affects your family and how your family affects her. One evening we were talking with Uncle Jim and Aunt Katie about having a German exchange student. Katie grew up with parents who only spoke German in the house so she could speak German too. Uncle Jim commented it was too bad that Elisa was not here a couple of years ago when Katie’s memory was better. Katie suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and has trouble remembering things and finding words. We decided to have Elisa come over and talk to Katie in German. Katie’s face lit up and she responded, “Das gut.” She also said “too long.” It was a very touching moment for all of us.
Besides growing close with family, Elisa also learned a new skill. Our family are big woodworkers. Elisa spent some time over in host grandpa’s workshop and she decided to learn how to turn pens. She ended up spending hours in the workshop making pens as gifts for her family and friends in Germany and all her new family and friends here in Ohio.
We love Elisa, so we knew that it was going to be a great experience for us to have Kate with us this year. We were just hoping that in this time of uncertainty and COVID, that Kate would be able to have a normal school year and enjoy all that being in America has to offer. So when we found out she was going to turn 16 just 5 days after she was here, we knew we needed to make it special. We asked her what type of cake and food she liked. She knew we were going to have dinner and celebrate, but she did not know we were inviting some extended family and Kim, our ICES coordinator. She was so surprised by the people, special gifts and nice evening spent outside with a bonfire. She said it was “Amazing!”
We had to tease Kate just a little. During her first week in the USA her response to everything was that it was “Amazing!” She was genuine and she really did believe what she was saying! She was coming from Prague to our country home in rural Ohio. She lives in a house in the big city and we have chickens and are surrounded by farm fields. We have spent a lot of time outside on walks, biking, and hiking. We own kayaks so we enjoyed getting out on the lake a couple of times and we have caught some beautiful sunsets along the way!
Kate is a real joy to have living with us. She always smiling, positive, she loves to talk and is always willing to try new things. We are very happy our school started up in person so she can experience student life and meet other kids. She is enjoying playing tennis and meeting the other girls on the team. Even though things may not be exactly as anticipated, life is still full of moments of adventure, joy, laughter, and love. From a 16th birthday party in America, to bike rides, kayaking, hiking, fishing, spending a day at Kings Island, going on a road trip to drop her host sister off at college, helping out at a soup kitchen, watching American movies and playing tennis at school; those moments keep happening. Moments that will make this a special and memorable year for Kate and for our family. We are blessed that she has become part of our family now. Although we are still getting to know Kate, we look forward to having many more stories to tell.
Chris and Amy Brausch
ICES Host Family in Clarksville, Ohio
Hosted Elisa from Germany 2018-19 and
currently Katrina from the Czech Republic