As Academic Year in America (AYA) international exchange students are arriving and getting settled with their eager host families around the country, it’s a great time to share a reflection from Chevron, an AYA student from Suriname on the YES Program who spent a year living in New York with the Scholla family. He recently returned to his home country, but the impact of his year on the AYA program living with this loving, welcoming bunch will last a lifetime for both him and his American family.
Chevron from Suriname reflects on his cultural exchange year in New York with the Scholla family:
“We, as exchange students, have been through a hard time, have made decisions before we could go on an exchange year. Knowing that it’s going to be hard to live with a family you’ve never met or heard of, a family you only saw on social media, only talked to for a month (or some of us only for a few weeks). It’s also difficult to come to a country that has different food, a different school system, and a different way of thinking. It’s difficult to be away from your friends and family in your home country. The things and people you love all get left behind for an entire year. Now we are all here, at the end of the year, preparing to go back home, all have had a successful year.
This is the moment where I want to thank my amazing host family, the Schollas. They accepted me in their home; they didn’t treat me as a guest, or as an exchange student, but as their own son. They made sure I had an amazing year. I had their support when I was up, and their motivation when I was down. They made me feel comfortable being away from home, missing my family and friends, making new friends, and getting used to a strange country. I’ll miss my host brother, Carter, with whom I play sport, have fun and hang out together; my host sister, Cassidy, with whom I spend my free time by playing games (hide and seek, tag, etc.); my host dad, Doug, who always acts our age, which makes things funnier; my host mother, Tanya, who is the one who is always strict about our grades, the one who always makes jokes where you sometimes can’t tell if she is serious or if she is joking.
I wish I could tell you more, but there is one important thing that makes this family more special. They also hosted another exchange student, Simona, who is very creative and talented. I still can’t believe that the Schollas hosted two exchange student in one year and made sure that we each had a wonderful experience.
I don’t think I could thank my host family enough, but thank you for always supporting me at games, making sure my grades were not dropping, but most importantly for making my exchange year a success. As we all know we, can’t change the world by ourselves, but there are amazing host families bringing the world together.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Welcoming not one but TWO exchange students into their home, the Scholla family embraced AYA’s mission of cultural exchange and made a lasting impact on the lives of their students. We know that Chevron and the Scholla family will miss each other, but with any luck, they will meet again in some happy corner of the world!
Is your family interesting in hosting an international exchange student?