Did you know that the Narragansett High School has a foreign exchange student host program?
Well, I didn’t either until a few years ago and I opened up my home to a girl we never met in 2009 and when her time with us was up, we didn’t want her to leave. Hosting an exchange student was the best experience my family has ever been through together and the lessons we learned will stay with us for a lifetime. I know for a fact that Stephanie and her parents feel the same way. We chose to be a host family for a variety of personal reasons and my husband and I were very ready to take on another child and give them the opportunity to come to the USA and experience life here. Never would we have imagined that our lives would be impacted in such a profound way … my boys were not thrilled we were “getting” a girl, but in the end they gained a sister and we gained a daughgter to love and treasure for the rest of our lives, even though she lives in Germany.
I will admit it was awkward at first not knowing what to say or to keep having to ask each other questions, but each person was willing to go that extra distance to be sure we were coming together to form a bond. Stephanie was so excited to come and be here and we were equally excited to have her stay so together it was easier to be patient and work through those beginning moments. I knew when they boys and Steph began teasing one another and came up with nick names that this time in our lives would be special.
I could write thousands of words about the months we had with Steph, but I will summarize what I think the most important lessons we all took away from the experience were:
- giving is a better way of life
- thinking outside the box has helped us become more open to challenges
- learning to adapt to another persons way of life
- sharing yourself without holding back meant truly learning about love
- being open to another persons culture was rewarding
- seeing our life through someone else’s eyes made us much more aware of how we were as a family unit
- saying goodbye was the hardest thing we have ever done and we knew we had made a strong connection
Those are only brief snippets of what our time really meant together and how hard we all tried to bond together and really have the rich experience that in the end was life changing and in that 10 months time it defined how we now see things as a family and as individuals.
If you want to know more about the program, I have attached a pamphlet for your review. If you have a room in your home and more room in your heart for a child, I encourage you to strongly consider hosting an exchange student…it will help that individual experience life in our country and it will change your life immeasurably.