Ayusa reached out to two veteran host families about why they choose to continue to host students year after year. The Coutu family has hosted 45 students and have already signed up to host their 46th. The Estes family has hosted several students over the years from around the globe. Here are four reasons why they say you should open your home and heart again to another high school exchange student.
It is never goodbye.If you decide to a host another student, it should never feel like you are moving away from your last wonderful experience. The Coutu family loves how social media and apps have only expanded how much they can stay in touch with their students once they return home. “Yara put What’s App on John’s phone so she could call him or text him for free. She went home and gave me a tour of her house by her phone while speaking with us. We saw one of the wind chimes swaying in the breeze on the patio that she had purchased here to take home.” When the Estes family had the opportunity to travel to Europe for a band competition, their daughter was the only one with Dutch sisters in the audience cheering her on! Don’t limit your opportunities to have extended family around the world by hosting one student.
Why miss out?
Host Mom Amy Estes sums it up best by stating, “Our lives would be so boring without these experiences. Each student has brought something completely different to our family, both culturally and emotionally. Yet, I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world because getting to experience the ‘firsts’ with each kid is a genuinely heartwarming experience. Seeing our country, community, and family through their eyes is a good reminder of how others perceive Americans.”
Learning more about a different culture or region.
“We decided to pick a familiar country the first time we hosted with Ayusa,” says Amy. “Our family has made it a point to pick a different country each time for a new and different experience. I wanted to experience what it was like to have a son since we have all girls, so we hosted boys from Pakistan and Spain.”
Starting a ripple and being part of a transformation in a young person’s life.
When the Coutu family first started hosting, they were amazed at the transformation that would happen over the course of the year with each student. “It was like a metamorphosis,” says Host Mom Connie. She goes on to state, “Victor Hugo said, ‘Change your opinions, keep to your principles, change your leaves, keep intact your roots.’ I think this aptly describes some of what a student will experience in becoming an exchange student living in a different culture for a year. Being exposed to different ideas and culture, exposes the student to not only a new culture and open-mindedness, it also makes students reflect and appreciate all the aspects of their culture as well, like lenses on sunglasses. We see students blossom into wonderful young men and young women as they gain a maturity and confidence that would not necessarily come with age. We see them return to their home communities changed in the eyes of their parents and friends. After experiencing the exchange year here, they are ready to take on the world. Truly, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’ as stated by Nelson Mandela. These young ones become the future global leaders.”