At the end of every 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.
It goes without saying that we are inspired by all of our host families nationwide, but we are particularly moved by our Host Family of the Year nominees. Each family displays a sincere dedication to cultural exchange, love and kindness, generosity, and being open-minded. They, without a doubt, showcase the very best of American culture and hospitality.
We had so many incredible host family nominations this year, which made it incredibly tough to choose one single winner!
Without further ado, the 2018-19 AYA Host Family of the Year is… the Hammond Family from Illinois!
Nominated by their international exchange student Milica, a FLEX Program participant from Montenegro, the Hammond family made her exchange year experience completely unforgettable.
Read Milica’s heartfelt nomination here:
Ever since I first step foot on American soil, I was guided and unconditionally loved by the people I am fortunate enough to call my host family. My incredible experience would not be even half as amazing if it weren’t for them. Their immense kindness, empathy and thoughtfulness made me feel like I wasn’t away from home — but that I was right where I am supposed to be.
They, especially my host mom, made it possible for me to completely immerse myself in American culture, be successful at school, find volunteering opportunities & see many famous US landmarks!
I truly have not met a family with a bigger heart than the Hammonds. Before I came, I didn’t have many expectations, I just hoped my host family would be “kind of nice” — I couldn’t have been more wrong. To say they are nice would be an understatement. Their openness and curiosity about my country, culture and traditions fills my heart up with joy and happiness while I realize that this family is who I belong with. My host siblings are almost like my real siblings, they were always happy to tell me things about the US that only Americans know, spending time with them just watching “Friends” or stuffing our faces with Chick-Fil-A. My host dad’s sense of humor and open mind always cheers my up, while my host mom’s smile and laughter brighten up even the darkest of days.
They have taught me not only how to be more tolerant, a better decision maker and a more optimistic person, they have also taught me how to open up my heart and mind to new opportunities, explore and create. As my host mom put it, “The whole world is in front of you; you can do anything.”
I wish that everybody could have such family, for they have changed my life. I could never thank them enough for it. One thing is for certain — I will never forget these wonderful people who are more than deserving of being named Host Family of the Year. I am forever grateful and forever in debt to them for all they have done for me. Even after I leave, which will be a hard, teary-eyed goodbye, I hope life treats them well and that their every day is filled with joy.
I sincerely hope you will consider these admirable and phenomenal people for the Host Family of the Year.
We’d also like to recognize a few other AYA host families who were nominated and selected as runner-ups for Host Family of the Year:
- The Hart Family from Montana, nominated by Marie from Germany
- The Wenslow Family from New York, nominated by Ludwig from Germany
- The DeBouver Family from Ohio, nominated by Emily from Germany
- The Gay Family from Wisconsin, nominated by Laura from Austria
You and your family could be next year’s Host Family of the Year! Open a high school international exchange student’s eyes to a whole new world by hosting with AYA.