While we always aim for the best of experiences for our host families and students, there are times when not all is as perfect as expected. This, however, does not mean that all is lost for our host families and students! There is always a chance to learn and grow and for situations to change!
Anni, from Germany, nominated Donna and Gary Bell and their daughters for Host Family of the Month for welcoming her into their home halfway through the year. Anni made the difficult decision to seek out a new host family and made the change at the start of 2014. The decision ended up working out beautifully for her and has since had “the best year of my life in the small but beautiful town of Franklin in North Carolina” thanks to the Bell Family!
Below, Anni shares her experiences with the Bell Family and why she nominated them for Host Family of the Month!
“My name is Ann-Kathrin but everybody here just calls me Anni. I am an exchange student from Germany and I am spending the best year of my life in the small but beautiful town of Franklin in North Carolina!
I left Germany on August 14, 2013 and spent three great and exciting days in New York. After that, I flew to the Asheville Airport and met my first Host Family for the first time (I changed Host Families after the first semester). It felt like a rollercoaster made out of millions of different feelings but four months later a decision was made: I am going to change my host family. It wasn’t easy for me. I was debating about it but my parents finally helped and requested the change.
So, since January 2014 I am living with this family (the Bell Family) and I love it! It feels like home! I am living with my host parents and one of their three grown up girls. The other two are either going to college or living in their own house.
I feel like being home here! All five of them are all so amazing people and from the first second on I felt like a part of their family! But not only them, also my new grandparents accepted me as their new grandchild! I can just be who I am and don’t have to change myself for them! They accept me the way I am, the way God created me!
My sisters and me, we are actually pretty similar in some ways! Which makes it easier to understand each other and easier to fit in without changing yourself. I mean, I have changed during my time here but not into a completely new person. I became more independent and I grew a lot through my friends and especially through my family.
My sister and me, we are always joking and aggravating each other which makes our evenings so much shorter and life so much more interesting, at least I think!
In my 3 months with them I have seen so much but we still had enough time to relax and listen to everybody’s story. For example, my mom and me had a ‘German night’ where I showed and explained to her some of my German life. It felt really good to share some of my childhood, so she could have an idea how it is in a different country/culture and where I am coming from. Or, my middle sister has taken me to her old college to show me how she spent four years of her life. It was a 3 hour trip and we talked the whole time about our lives and our feelings. It always feels so good to know that there is somebody who cares about you and your feelings! And I know I have that! I know I can go to all of them (my parents, sisters or even grandparents) and they would always listen and try to help me! They treat me as one of them and always try to fit my needs and dates into their daily life and schedule. I just love them!
I could write pages but I think this says enough! I am just so glad and happy that I can call them my family! They are amazing people and again; I love them! “Me encantan! Ich habe sie einfach lieb! Je les aime!“
They showed me what exchange is about. That it is so hard to define. That it is something that nobody can take away from me. Something that no one will ever truly understand. Something that I can’t just show it in pictures. An experience that is unbelievable. That exchange is something I will never forget, something that will always be a part of me and my life. And especially that It is not a year in my life! No, it is my life in a year. It is something nobody can understand unless they have been through it.
A big thank you to my Host Family and to Ayusa! I am so happy that you are making my dream become true and making it to the, seriously, the best year of my life! Thank you! Without you I wouldn’t be where I am right now!”
Congratulations to the Bell Family for being selected to be the Host Family of the Month!
If you are a current Ayusa student and would like to nominate your host family, send an email with your nominations and a few pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.