As the single mom of two young kids, our family accidentally fell into hosting a high school exchange student …
… and it’s been the most wonderful blessing.
I’d worked with the international program for many years, been an exchange student myself and hosted students in my family when I was growing up. That being said, I felt intimidated to become a host mom myself.
After a few weeks of “temporary” hosting Emilie from Denmark over the holidays, my family fell in love with her. My two kids instantly connected to her and started calling her “Emilie Mommy”.
The holidays were extra special, incorporating her holiday traditions with our own. We celebrated Hanukkah by lighting the candles on the Menorah each night alongside the Danish Christmas candle. One night, we even added in candles for my son’s Elmo birthday cake….good thing we didn’t start a fire from all the open flames at our table.
She taught us some fun games involving dice and presents. We took her up to a mountain area to hand-cut our holiday tree. We traveled to Seattle together and she loved the rainy weather as it reminded her of Denmark.
Over the next few months, we have bonded even more together as a family. Her initial homesickness that she experienced at the start of the year has faded into love for Montana as she counts down the days until she goes back to Denmark with bitter-sweet emotions.
Our daily routine has become the norm, getting everyone out the door on time for school and enjoying family activities on weekends. Emilie is so helpful and caring.
My kids will remember this experience forever and I look forward to visiting Emilie next fall. She is already planning a trip back to Bozeman too!
I have experienced all sides of hosting now and feel extremely lucky to have fallen into this opportunity.
I hope many people will embrace this cultural adventure and host an exchange student too!
ICES Regional Administrator, Montana