Here at AEIP, we often hear success stories from our host families and their international students.
Here is one of these stories. Read on to see how one host family found their experience with Ted, their international student.
Part I: Becoming a Host Family for Ted, Our International Student
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have an international high school student come and live with you and your family while he or she attends school in the USA?
We live in a great county that offers many different opportunities for young people who want to experience the differences in everyday life in another country, as well as make a difference in the lives of others.
Through the homestay experience, families in the USA can offer a lot of diversity in culture, foods, language (such as American slang), leisure activities, and holidays. However, this experience can go beyond this as well. Homestays can also show others what is important to us as both Americans, and individuals.
Although all people have some similarities, as Americans, we are especially good at expressing ourselves. Because of this, we have a unique and wide scope of opportunities to offer someone that wishes to learn to express themselves. These different ways can include: art, writing, music, humor, and living in a community -to name just a few.
Every community and family is different in how they see themselves as part of a bigger picture. The homestay opportunity presents itself as an excellent opportunity for us to glimpse into the lives of another culture, to see life through their eyes. It gives both the family and the student a chance to learn.
Through our homestay program, my husband and I took in a young man in from China. Zihang Huang, or Ted –which was the American name he chose for himself, was planning to begin his studies in America in August 2012.
We were nervous, and wondered briefly if we were doing the right thing. Sure, we knew we cared about kids, and that we would love investing into the life of a child, having already raised four daughters of our own. But what we were really worried about -was Zihang. Would he be happy with us? What if he missed his family too much, could we be that substitute? Or what if he didn’t like us?
Zihang arrived with his driver from JFK. With suitcases in hand, he turned to face his “new family” for the first time. We were to be his family for the next ten months. Of course, we welcomed him with a smile and a hug.
After such a long trip, Zihang was tired, yet he seemed happy. We gave him a tour of our house. We wanted him to know his way around. We knew that with the sudden change in time, his body would take a while to adjust, and there was a chance that he might wake while everyone was still sleeping.
We had prepared his room to welcome him, and to make him as comfortable as possible. His room was stocked with a small gift basket filled with various treats such as juices, and water, as well as a few snacks. We also offered him a bathroom, filled with the needed items to shower if he wished, and gave him a journal. In an effort to welcome him to the family, we had each written a note of welcome to him. We hoped that these touches would show him that we were invested in this new journey we were all starting together.
I wanted two things for Zihang: I wanted him to feel welcome, and to know that he would be cared for. At that moment, we were strangers, but we wanted to become more. And that is how our journey began.
Stay tuned for more updates on our family’s story hosting an international student.