Hosting Hanna has been an incredible rewarding experience for our family and we would not trade this year with her for anything.
We would like to share our story with our exchange student, no really our exchange daughter, Hanna. Hanna is 15 years old and comes from a small village in Germany named Hönnepel. She stepped off an airplane in Bloomington, IL on August 15th, 2015 which seems like yesterday, but also like so long ago. Why does it feel so long ago??? Because Hanna has become so much a part of our family it is hard to imagine a time when she was not here. Hanna has amazed us each and every day with her positive attitude and willingness to take chances, try new things, meet new people, and succeed in it all. The day after we registered her for school and showed her around the school, we asked if she wanted to go back to school and get more familiar with the layout and where her classes were. She said, “No, I want to go sign up for a sport.” She joined the cross country team despite not running much back home. Within a week she was running 3 miles and as the season continued she set personal bests 3 consecutive times. She gave it her all and her effort did not go unnoticed by the coach when she was asked to run Varsity at an important meet. One of our favorite memories from Cross Country was when Hanna was running a race and saw us cheering her on as she ran bye and she got a big smile on her face.
It melts our hearts when Hanna gives Caitlyn a hug before she catches the bus to school or holds her hand as they walk together.
In school, Hanna has been able to take new and different classes. Only one class is similar to a class back in Germany (Math), while the rest were new (U.S. History, Psychology, U.S. Government & Politics). Despite the classes being new and different, she still managed to make Honor Roll first semester. Her favorite class has been psychology (the best part was when she said that according to her psychology class, we should go on date nights twice a month, who are we to disagree?). During Parent-Teacher Conferences, her teachers had nothing but positive things to say about her.
She has been an amazing big sister to our daughter Caitlyn, who is 11 and an only child. From playing basketball or soccer with her, to cooking with her, to goofing around, to telling her “No, I don’t want to play right now,” she has helped our daughter mature and know what it is like to have a sibling. I don’t think we could have asked for a better big sister for Caitlyn. It melts our hearts when Hanna gives Caitlyn a hug before she catches the bus to school or holds her hand as they walk together.
Over the last 8 months we have had many amazing experiences with Hanna. From bigger things such as going to Chicago, Thanksgiving & Christmas, a family vacation to escape the cold winter of Illinois to simple things such as eating dinner as a family, cooking together, family movie night, and of course seeing Star Wars. Hanna has been an absolute pleasure to have with us. Hanna has made the most out of her exchange year, never missing an opportunity to try something new. We have watched her grow up and mature so much in such a short period of time. We know she will be successful at anything she does in life.
At the end of May, her family will come over and join us as we all celebrate Hanna’s graduation. Graduation day she will have 2 sets of parents in attendance who are going to be extremely proud of her. She will also have one set of parents who will be very glad to have her back and another set of parents who will be fighting tears when she leaves because we will be losing a family member, big sister, and daughter. Hosting Hanna has been an incredible rewarding experience for our family and we would not trade this year with her for anything.
Our exchange daughter is Hanna Arntz.
Tim and Tiffany Mitchell