At the end of each school year, Academic Year in America (AYA) international high school exchange students and their Local Coordinators across the United States take the time to nominate host families for the honor of AYA Host Family of the Year.
In addition to a sincere dedication to cultural exchange, our host families exhibit love, kindness, generosity, and being open-minded. They, without a doubt, showcase the very best of American culture and hospitality. This year, host families truly went above and beyond as our students not only navigated an academic year overseas, but a global pandemic. Through extraordinary times can come extraordinary bonds, so it’s no surprise we received some truly moving and inspiring nominations. It was incredibly tough to choose one single winner!
Without further ado, the 2019-20 AYA Host Family of the Year is… the Stokes Family from South Carolina!
Nominated by their international exchange student Denis, a FLEX Program participant from Moldova, the Stokes Family made his exchange year experience completely unforgettable.
Watch Denis’s nomination video about why he loves his host family so much:
One year ago, I couldn’t even imagine what great things I was going to experience in the US, what amazing people I was going to meet. My exchange year exceeded all expectations and the reason for that is my host family. From the very first day, I could tell that they were people who would become an integral part of my life. Our relationship was built on mutual understanding and support. I will never forget my host family cheering for me at my swim meets. I am extremely thankful for the experiences they have given me: visiting the State House, going to college football games, NASCAR races, an unforgettable trip to Florida and deep-sea fishing, going to an NBA game, which was one of my dreams. I almost forgot! We have never been bored. Practicing sports, sharing culture, cooking together, celebrating different holidays. Even being in quarantine, we spent time learning new life skills. We always have fun. Because of them, I had a life in a year. I have the best host family because now I have a second home in Florence, South Carolina.
Here’s to the Stokes Family and their incredible relationship with their exchange student!