The following is a beautiful submission from AYA host mom Amy from Maine. Amy is currently hosting her fourth exchange student! When Amy first submitted her host family application, she did not know where the journey would take her family. Hosting exchange students for multiple years created lasting bonds spanning continents and cultures.
Amy shares her reflections on hosting four exchange students:
Back in 2014, we had a friend ask if we ever considered an exchange student. I did a Google search and AYA came up. I decided to fill out the application not knowing where our journey would take us from there. I was contacted by a local coordinator letting me know we were approved to host a student. She then sent us 2 profiles, we read through them and chose. The local coordinator then said she would verify with the school to make sure they had an opening. By chance, there was 1 spot left and we snagged it. We would have a student for the 2014-2015 school year!
A couple months later we welcomed our first student ever—Karl. We were so nervous but luckily, we were able to Skype with him before he got here so we had a face to the name and photos. Karl fit in so well with our families and he was so respectful and courteous. We formed a bond rather quickly and he really became our son. We celebrated the holidays together we decided to get an Elf on the Shelf, a Christmas tradition. Karl got to name our elf; he chose to name her Zelda.
Near the end of the year, Karl’s family made a trip to Maine. His mom hugged me so tight and long and could not thank us enough for choosing Karl. They were so supportive and then we saw where his manners came from. Saying goodbye, this was hard; we had become a family and he was to be leaving us. We threw him a going-away party where he could invite the friends he made that year. He even called me his mom to his friends; my heart melted even more that he considered me as a mother figure. The following Summer 2016 Karl came back home to visit us for 3 weeks. We had such a great time and it’s like he never left, we picked up right where we left off. I still to this day am amazed how close we are and we still talk to him a few times a year we send packages back and forth. He is hoping to visit in the Summer of 2020.
We decided to host another student from 2016-2017 but this time we chose Jenny. Again we were able to Skype before she got here and we were able to talk face to face. We were all nervous but excited. Jenny got along with our families too and she even got to go to Canada for my cousin’s baby shower. She went to her first Prom with a group of friends and had an amazing night. The end of the year came and Jenny’s mom and grandmother came to Maine to visit. It was so nice meeting her family we had talked to the whole year. Jenny left us in June to go back home but she made plans to come back for the Summer of 2018 to visit us for 3 weeks. We had a great time and fell right back into place.
We loved hosting so much after having 2 kids so we decided why not have another one the very next school year 2017-2018. We welcomed Johannes in August of 2017. Again we were able to Skype before he got here. Johannes made friends fast and started hanging with them right away. He came early enough to start on the first day of soccer practice with the team. He got to know the team before school started and was able to fit right in. Prom came really fast. He rented a tux and went with a group of guys to hang out for the night. He had a blast. The end of this year seemed to come faster than the previous two. This past Summer of 2019, Johannes came back to visit. He spent the first 2 weeks with friends and we got to have him back in our home for his last week.
All 3 kids are in our hearts and we consider them family. We still talk to each of them and we want to have lifelong relationships with all of them.
At the end of August 2019, we welcomed our 4th student, Emely. Before Emely got here, we emailed and talked through Skype. Though it has only been a couple of months, things are going well. She has already made friends. She got to meet a lot of family members and they all love her and fully accept her just like the 3 before her.
We have a tentative plan to take a trip to Germany and visit all 4 of our students in their hometowns. We are very excited about the possible trip and we will start really getting into the details next summer. Right now we are focusing on Emely and her time with us. We want to gain another daughter to go along with our other 3 kids. Here’s to the rest of this amazing year!
Are you interested in creating meaningful and lasting connections all over the world like Amy’s family? Consider hosting an international exchange student—or try repeat hosting.