Today we are shining the spotlight on a family who has already hosted two students, one from Germany and the other from Spain. Read on to get a glimpse of the special memories that their students and families have made together!
“Gonzalo hardly spoke when he arrived! By the time he left, he had gained so many skills in the language. He never felt confident about his English, but he came a long way. When he returned back home, he didn’t get back to his life right away. He still missed us. Then on Father’s Day, he messaged me and said, “Happy Father’s Day!” I said, “Thank you!” And he said, “You’re kind of like a father to me.” That melted my heart. He said his friends say they will visit but he doesn’t believe them. He questioned us coming to see him — and I said, don’t worry! We have jobs — we will come see you!
So far we’ve hosted Kevin and Gonzalo. Each experience is similar and so different all at once. Their personalities make the experience. But it has been truly rewarding. When I see my 9 year old hug them, or whenever our students and my son connect over basketball or a video game, it reminds me of why we host. We have such a unique experience that no one else we know has. We literally know people across the globe and we can call them for anything. Our first exchange son’s grandmother sent us her famous German cookies for Christmas last year, and that was truly amazing. We didn’t ask her for them… but they were a strong reminder of the bond that remains between our families. And, we will get to meet Oma and the rest of his family in person in September!
This year, Gonzalo’s dad even visited us after spending a week with his son in New York. Coming back to San Antonio and getting to meet his lovely father was very special. We enjoyed steaks and tapas on the patio. For the potatoes, at one point when I was preparing part of the meal, he was telling us about this sauce that Spanish people put on their potatoes. He was explaining it, and was asking if we had this or that. We didn’t quite have enough olive oil, so he clapped his hands together and in a rush of energy, said, let’s go get some! My wife, Gonzalo, his dad and my son darted out the door to get in the car and go to the store. I stayed behind to continue preparing the meal. That was such a neat experience. They came back and made this “mojo picon” and WOW! It was delicious!”
Each host family is coupled with one of our compassionate local coordinators who help the family choose a student and provide support throughout the school year. Ryan comments on the close relationship his coordinator has with his family:
“Our family’s relationship with our coordinator is a mix between great friends and her being a part of our family. She is amazing! It’s great that we have a person like her in our lives outside of the program. But she is also invaluable to us in a professional manner through the exchange.”
Finally, Ryan explains what is gained from hosting exchange students year after year:
“We gain so much, including cultural understanding, relationships with our sons and their own families across the world, and soon, we will be embarking on our trip to see our first student. That kicks off our yearly pilgrimage to our sons to see them in their countries.
We will welcome Carlo from Italy and Digo (Rodrigo) from Brazil this coming year. Their room is ready!”
Ready to welcome a new culture and years of friendship with a student eager to experience the American way of life? Apply today to become one of our loving host families!