we knew right away that it was something that we were being called to explore and do…
For anyone pondering if they should become a host family, I would suggest that you do it. It’s much more than proving room and board. It’s been an extension of our hearts, home and family.
My husband and I had gotten to the point with our family that our daughter had moved out several years ago and was living year around at her university and our son was in his first year in college. We felt a nudge to use the empty bedrooms that we were blessed with. We didn’t know how we would do that at first and we were looking into different ideas such as foster parenting, etc and then we saw a friend of ours on Facebook who was a mutual friend with one of the ICES coordinators. She was asking for host families and we knew right away that it was something that we were being called to explore and do. The process was fairly straightforward. We applied and entered a profile and had some home visits and then were given a chance to review the bios of some of the students that were available. We knew right away that we wanted to host a particular student. He had similar interests to my husband and son who still lived at home and his family structure was very similar to ours. He lived on an island outside of 🇮🇹 Italy and that was one place that we always wanted to visit and explore that culture.
At first, after talking to our son about the idea, he was concerned about it feeling awkward and always feeling like we had company and not being able to feel at home with a new person in the house. He also had reservations about sharing his space, chores etc. All of his concerns were very valid and things to consider when hosting, but we encouraged him that we felt like those things would be resolved quickly and the possible benefits would outweigh any short term disruptions in lifestyle. It didn’t take long before they were acting like brothers.
When our host student arrived our whole family was amazed at how well he fit into our family.
This was true of our immediate family living in the house as well as grandparents and aunts. Everyone was so blessed by his presence in our lives and we so truly enjoyed this experience. Our student has returned home now and I know that we will keep this relationship for a lifetime. He is truly part of our family.
I think we first thought of our role as giving him as many experiences in the USA as possible and while that is a valuable part of hosting, just connecting and loving and parenting a student is the most important and valuable part of the program. The students learn so much from just being in an American home and experiencing our culture and language on a daily basis.
I can guarantee if you decide to host a student that you will be rewarded even more than the student that you host.
The Whitney Family 🇺🇸