Before Arthur Sivade, an Academic Year in America (AYA) high school exchange student from France, arrived in the U.S., he didn’t know quite what to expect of his new life in an unfamiliar country. Immediately upon meeting his host family at the airport, however, his anxieties melted away. The D’Arcy family took Arthur under their wing and welcomed him as a real son and brother in what would ultimately be, according to Arthur, one of the best years of his life. With the encouragement, support, and love offered unconditionally by his host family, Arthur immersed himself in his American cultural experience and gained not only a real understanding of life in the U.S., but also a warm relationship with the D’Arcys that will last long beyond his exchange year.
Arthur shares his wonderful cultural exchange experience with the D’Arcy family:
“During my orientation in New York City, we were told that the first weeks, even months, of adaptation could be hard and painful for exchange students discovering a new country full of surprises, but for me it just was not the case. As soon as I landed, I knew when I saw the welcoming, sincere and warm smile of my new family that I would spend one of the best years of my life.
As the days passed, the relationship between the ones I call now ‘my second family’ grew beyond the exchange program experience. I developed such a special relationship with them, something I never experienced before. I felt at home even if was 3000 miles away from where I was born. I never thought that a family could welcome and treat a stranger the way they did for me.
The D’Arcy family treated me like I was their son without any exceptions. That is why I had a wonderful year. They did everything to help me understand and love their culture and their lifestyle. Being part of their family taught me other values and another way of life. It just blows my mind how generous these people are. When I think about it, I am remembering every detail, ‘everyday things’ they did to make me comfortable. For them it is normal, but for me it counted a lot. For example, when they went to my every sporting event, even if it was raining, freezing or very late at night. They were there every time to support me.
Sometimes Chad, my host dad, would smoke ribs, my favorite American dish, on very sunny days. Other times Jami, my host mom, would do my laundry every time I needed, or she would ask me if I wanted to do something, or if I needed any help with school. Jake, my host brother, would teach me his passion for fishing, or we would spend the night watching and talking about basketball. All these details (and there are thousands more that I could talk about) make this family so unique.
As I said earlier, our relationship went beyond the exchange program because we have already planned to meet together in the future. I want them to meet my family back home, and I also really want to show them where I grew up. This exchange experience goes both ways. Of course one of the main purposes [of the AYA program] is for me to learn about American culture, but I also think the D’Arcys want to know about other cultures, which is another point that makes them a wonderful host family.”
Thank you to the D’Arcy family for welcoming Arthur into their lives with open arms and hearts, and to Arthur for sharing his experience as a member of this caring American family. We wish them all the best as they all embark on the next chapter of their lives!
Is your family ready to welcome an exchange student like Arthur into your lives?