Each year, AYA exchange students and Local Coordinators across the United States send in their nominations in hopes that their beloved host family will be named our Host Family of the Year — and 2021 is no exception! We are always so moved to read about the bonds made through our program and the long-lasting effect these people-to-people cultural exchanges will have — particularly this year, when COVID-19 made such an impact on our interpersonal connections.
Meet the Runner-Up for Host Family of the Year for 2021: the Devlin Family from Montana!
The Devlin Family was nominated both by their AYA Local Coordinator, Marilyn, and their exchange student, Annika from Germany. Read on for both of their sentiments:
I proudly take the opportunity to nominate Jaime Devlin and her daughter, Kyslei for the AYA Host Family Of The Year. They went above and beyond the call to make their student, Annika’s experience a most memorable and rewarding one. They were very supportive and created opportunities for not only Annika, but all of the other exchange students who were here during this time.
Jaime and Kyslei started by connecting with Annika and her family in Germany before she arrived in January, 2021 for the semester. They excitedly greeted her with open arms at the airport when she arrived. The following days in the first week they gave her a tour of the community, the school and took her for a great meal at a noted barbecue restaurant.
Jaime took Annika to the school to get her signed up for class and get settled in at the school. Jaime made arrangements for Annika to give a presentation to the Town Administration as well as other places and helped her get started with her volunteer commitments in the community by helping with the Community Playhouse & Theatre renovation.
Throughout the few months Annika was here, Jaime and Kyslei took Annika to the mountains sledding, hiking, and skiing, they went to Yellowstone National Park, to Couer d’Alene, Idaho to spend a weekend at the Triple Play Amusement park, a trip to Spokane, Washington to enjoy sites there, a trip to Denver, Colorado so Annika could watch a Pro Baseball Game and get signatures of players along with seeing other sites in the area, a trip to see the Big Hole Battlefield and on to see the old ghost town, Bannack, a trip to Phillipsburg, Montana to do sapphire mining and go to the world famous “Sweet Palace” candy store, and a trip to Seattle, Washington to see the sites there, including Pike’s Market and the Space Needle and celebrate Annika’s two days before she left to return to Germany. These are just some of the highlights of activities they did.
Jaime made it possible for all of the exchange students here to take part in the “Backpack For Kids Program” Fundraiser that we held at the Stevensville Playhouse Theatre and deliver the donations to the school. Annika did a great performance with her host sister, Kyslei in the show that was performed at the fundraiser. Jaime also included another exchange student on some of the other trips she took Annika on. Jaime also made arrangements for all of the AYA Exchange Students to have a picnic in the park along with a fun game time. I conducted the students’ ReEntry Orientation at the event.
Jaime and Kyslei were 100% supportive of Annika throughout the time she was here whether it was with school activities, community activities, just simple home time or traveling to places Annika wanted to go to while she was here. Jaime, Kyslei and Annika developed a special relationship, which I am sure will continue through the years. I am proud to have come to know all three.– Marilyn A., AYA Local Coordinator
I stayed with Jaime and Kyslei Devlin for the last half a year and they were amazing.
I loved to stay with them because we fit perfectly together!
We did a lot of trips and other cool things and went for example to Idaho, to a football game, flu to Denver and Seattle and did more fun stuff like just hiking in Montana!
I have learned a lot about me during my stay there and I have grown mentally because of my experience!
A had a really really good time with them and I am so happy that I had the chance to stay with them. Right now I am already back in my home country and I miss them a lot but I am so excited to see them again next year– Annika, Exchange Student from Germany