If you would like a young person to swoop into your life and capture your heart, host an exchange student. After hosting our first student last year, we were hesitant to host another because we felt that we could never have another experience like our first. In a way, that’s true because each student is a unique person, and your experience with them will reflect that, but we have felt our hearts expand even more and been able to love both of our girls as we would our own children.
Last August, Claudia from Italy arrived and captured not only our hearts but those of our student body also. After being in the school less than two months, they voted her to reign as Homecoming Queen. (Imagine a proud host dad beaming as he drove his little Italian girl in the Homecoming Parade…) Later this spring, Claudia was voted to Prom Court as well. She has truly lived the American high school dream, and we were thrilled to be a part of that experience.
It was great fun this spring when Tatjana, our German student from last year, came for a visit with her parents. We had our “daughters” both together! They wanted to share “their” room, and they bonded right away. Claudia had a soccer game that weekend which we all attended, and after the game, Tati was mobbed by her former teammates. What a joyful reunion! It was a bit of a challenge at times communicating with Tati’s non-English-speaking parents, but many things supersede the language barrier like sharing a good meal, a smile, or a hug. We knew the two Aspect sisters had really hit it off, when they were “rocking out” together to their favorite tunes on our way home from a day trip to St. Louis!
We have shared many common interests with our girls such as travel, sports, board games, cooking, and baking. We have also established a “tradition” of hosting a tie-dye gathering with friends to make colorful creations for themselves and for gifts. Claudia took a real interest this year in joining me in my homemade soap making and cheesemaking hobbies. Many of our friends tell us that we have been really lucky to have had two great exchange students, and it is true that we have been blessed. We feel that one of the best things about the Aspect program is being able to review the students’ profiles and select a student who you think will be a good fit for your family. It’s interesting to note that host families don’t just gain a son or a daughter, but they gain their international families as well. We can’t wait to visit them! We often hear so much negativity in the news about governments clashing, but this exchange promotes international goodwill and understanding at a grassroots level which couldn’t be more important!
As we prepare to say goodbye to Claudia, we know that parting will be tough, and that a piece of our hearts will go back to Italy with her. We also know that our hearts will expand again when we welcome Clara from France in August. Thank you, Aspect, our lives are forever enriched.
— Carol and Joe, host parents in Illinois
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