We finally made the choice to be a host family
Our experience with the International exchange program has been absolutely wonderful! We are so glad that we finally made the choice to be a host family, after only “thinking about it” for years. So far we have had the pleasure of hosting two students; Rachel who came to us from China last year, and Cecilia who is staying with us this year from Italy. The knowledge we have gained from each of these kids about their country and culture, and the connection we’ve made with their families is more than we could have ever imagined or hoped for, and has been quite an enlightening experience for all of us for sure.
Both, Rachel and Cecilia are very intelligent students who are also extremely well behaved and polite, and both are not only willing, but always wanting to help do things around the house; whether it be Cecilia preparing the authentic Italian dishes for us that she has learned to cook from her mom, or both wanting to set the table and do the dishes after meals. All this makes us feel very fortunate to have chosen these students stay with us.
Both kids also fit in very well with our family; Rachel loved watching football and baseball, and also really enjoyed playing ping pong and chess (everyday if you let her!). Cecilia loves to cook and help out in the kitchen, and is a little more interested in the things that American teenage girls typically like to do, such as shopping, going to school dances, football games, watching movies, playing games, and seeing the sights here in America. Most of these are things that both girls really don’t have the chance to experience at home while going to school, so we try to do as much as possible with them while they are here with us with the time and resources that we have, so as to make the most of their stay here with us.
Both girls also excel in their studies; Rachel was a straight A student throughout her stay with us, and also made the National Honor Roll. Rachel’s calculus teacher commended her for always having perfect scores on her tests!
Cecilia also has near perfect scores in all her classes, and we suspect that she will also make the National Honor Roll if she decides to pursue that. Both girls came with good English language skills, but Cecilia has really excelled, and now has a perfect 100 score in her English 3 class! I think it is an incredible accomplishment for any international student to come to a foreign country and get a perfect, or near perfect score in that country’s language and history classes.
Both girls really came here prepared, and both are very determined and focused on what they do, so we never had to worry about them falling behind, or having any issues in school. We also never had to worry about where they were, as they are both very respectful about asking and letting us know if they wanted to do something outside the house with friends. I believe all this is a great reflection on their parents, and the wonderful job they have done raising these kids. They are representing themselves and their families very well while staying here, and it’s always a delight to take them places due to their exceptional conduct.
We certainly miss Rachel, but are fortunate in that she actually came back to the area to finish her studies here in America at a private school about an hour away from us, and even though she is with a different family due to the distance, we have the pleasure of receiving calls from her most every week on Friday evenings to see how she is doing, and will also be seeing her at Thanksgiving this year when she comes to stay with us for a couple of days during her time off school. We also had the pleasure of meeting her parents who visited us for an afternoon last summer when they were here in the states getting Rachel set up in her new school. They were so grateful and kind, and spoke much better English than we had anticipated, which made for a very pleasant visit.
What more can I say about Cecilia, other than she is wonderful and an absolute pleasure to have around the house. We also have the enjoyment of corresponding with her parents from time to time via email as well (Google is a great translator), so we believe that relieves a lot of the anxiety that they must have being so far away from their daughter for so long.
We are grateful for the bonds that we have made with both of these kids and their families. I believe the hardest part of this experience will be when we have to drive Cecilia back to the airport next May when the school year ends. She has, and continues to fill our hearts and our home with joy each and every-day, and she will definitely be missed when she has to go back home. We know that she will leave a hole in our hearts, and a void in our home when she goes, but we are enjoying the time with her while she is here, and can only hope that she will continue to correspond with us after she goes back so we can keep up with her and how she is doing. While she is here I am trying to learn as much Italian as I can, and also learn as many Italian recipes as I can; maybe someday we will get the chance to go to Italy and it will come in handy!
Our advice to anyone looking to open their home up to one of these kids for the first time is to be very diligent and attentive when reading through the profiles of the students. We have found the information provided to us to be very informative as well as accurate. I believe that along with open communication with the exchange program director is the best method for finding the student that will be the right fit for your family.
Ray & Patti Faragher
ICES host parents in Montgomery, Texas