It’s time for one of our favorite annual traditions – announcing the AYA Host Family of the Year! Each year, we receive nominations from AYA exchange students and Local Coordinators across the United States, who write us with heartwarming letters about their beloved host families.
We were moved by all the stories of extraordinary bonds formed between host families and international exchange students. While it is always difficult to choose just one winner, we received a particularly inspiring nomination letter about a family who has hosted exchange students for over 20 years.
Meet the 2021-22 AYA Host Family of the Year: the Webb Family from Colorado, who are double-hosting their 27th and 28th exchange students in August.
Read on to learn why their Local Coordinator, as well as the exchange students they hosted in the past, nominated this incredible family:
“Mike and Diane Webb have my vote (along with all 26 AYA students they have hosted) for AYA Host Family of the Year. Every year we can count on them to host two students and I have never once had to move a student to a new home.
Mike is a school bus driver so he can often be found driving the high school athletes to their away games and cheering them on at those games. He plays Santa every year and often times the exchange students get to be his elves for a day.
Diane is on a bowling league, she likes crafts, traveling, nurturing, and cooking and baking with her exchange students. I consistently hear from their AYA students how easy Diane is to talk to about anything. Her approachable and caring nature are ideal as a host mom.
The Webbs are fabulous tour guides and take their kids on some great road trip adventures every year to surrounding states. I wonder how many times they have been to Mount Rushmore now, but Mike and Diane don’t care… it’s all for the exchange students. Last year they organized a zoom call with all of their former students invited. It was a great turn out and they plan to do it a couple times a year going forward. So many of their students have come back to visit, some of them numerous times.
The Webbs have created one huge global family, which is exactly what this program is about. I asked some former students to share a memory or favorite thing about the Webbs to add to this host family of the year submission and these are some replies I received:
Even when they have a lot of stuff going on they never get tired of listening to problems or giving advice. They just make us kids feel like we are their kids and we have a home here. That’s why I keep coming back visiting them whenever I can.Nina from Germany
About Mike and Diane, it has been 8 years since I was there but the time with them is still one of the best memories I’ve ever had. It opens me a smile to remember all the long road trips and the camping I had with them. It was simple but the experience and the conversations we had on the road are very precious to me. Their hearts are so huge that no matter the number of exchange students they host, they still manage to make every one of them truly part of their family.Thalia from Brazil
Mike and Diane are warm, open and caring! I love that all my friends were welcome there any time, same when my family came at the end of the school year!Emma from Norway
They are a really good people with the biggest heart, it’s really nice their action to open their house to host teenagers from another country. I am grateful because I could live and meet special people during my exchange year. My favorite memory with Webbs is our trips together, specially when we stopped to eat in a new restaurant! I miss them.Gabi from Brazil
I never in a million years thought that my host family would become what I now consider true family […]They introduced me to family dinners, family activities and most importantly they showed me what love and stability is. I always knew that I could confide in either one of them, and that I would receive the best advice. Eight years later I still come home every Christmas, and every other opportunity I have. To me the Webbs are the definition of the word home: a safe place with unconditional love.Aina from Norway
I have many great memories from my year abroad but If I have to stick with one, it would be the road-trips with the Webbs Family. Even if it might sound weird, I really loved the long hour trips, Mike driving and the country music on. The opportunity that they gave us to see and visit that many places was wonderful and we also had so much fun together!Lucia from Spain
My favorite memory with the Webbs is telling them about After Prom on the day after! I had an amazing time during Prom and participated in a Cupcake Eating Challenge. I showed the grotesque video of me eating around 20 cupcakes super fast and they laughed so so much! Cupcake ended up being my nickname for them and I remember the whole conversation fondly. After each big memory of my time abroad, telling the Webbs about it was the best thing!Gigi from Brazil
Diane and Mike are definitely the nicest people I ever got to know. Their heart is so big and giving. They are always there for everyone and try to support their family and friends at all matters. Sometimes we used to talk for hours and Diane would tell me stories about their time whenever they started hosting. We talked and talked and after every conversation with them, I knew even better that the Webbs are definitely the most giving people. I am so happy for the time I could live with them, they helped me grow and were so supportive. It wouldn’t take long for me to feel home with them and to call them family!Elli from Austria
— With love from LC Steph Sasz and 26 exchange students.”
It goes to a most deserving family! I adopted their Granddaughter and they adopted me! That was like 22 years ago, gosh I’m getting old lol. I love my extended family so very much. They have been there through think and thin, never judging and ALWAYS supportive! ❤️
I love them with all my heart! 💓