This week, we've shared some amazing, heartwarming stories about host families as a part of Host Family Appreciation Week.
Now, it's our turn to share our stories! Our staff have been exchange students, and have hosted students themselves, and we think you'll find they say the same things: their hosting experiences have made an indelible mark on their lives.
Here are a few of their stories:
"My last and most recent experience with a host family was on a small rural island of Fiji in the south pacific. I lived with a family in a very small one room home with no electricity or running water and they were amazing—just an older lady and her granddaughter. They were extremely welcoming and although they had very little to share, they shared it with me and really made me a part of their family—taking me everywhere with them, involving me with food preparation, bringing me to family events and everything."
— Miranda Rodway, Support Coordinator
"Living in another family is not all roses and sunshine—it can be time-consuming to establish connection and communicate effectively. But it is worth all the hard work and effort and homesickness. I would not be who I am today without the wonderful families who have hosted me throughout the years, including my biological family, who encouraged me to travel and explore this wonderful world."
— Kate Sears, J1 Account Specialist, International Operations
"I don’t think we would have hosted exchange students if my brother had not been a participant on the CBYX outbound program. After he returned, there was a German exchange student at the high school who needed a new host family since his current one was going through a divorce. The English teacher recommended that my family might be interested and we took him for the rest of the year after Thanksgiving. He was the first of 8 students from 7 countries! I was only in Kindergarten when we took our first student and my parents hosted the last when I was a sophomore in college, so having an exchange student in the house is part of the fabric of my being. I grew up thinking that having foreign siblings was totally normal and I think it’s really helped shape who I am and my interests today. ! I am regularly in touch with two of them and was even in one of their weddings as maid of honor (in the Netherlands)."
— Katie Pfohl, Senior Coordinator, Grants
"I stayed with a Japanese family as a junior in college for one academic year. They were my perfect match. I was very grateful to the organization for matching us. My Host Mom truly became a second mom to me, discussing my every day at the dinner and taking me out for cultural excursions. She was a teacher of poetry, and we connected over our mutual love of literature. I was their 15th international student. I hope to visit them someday in Japan."
— Elena Kirillova, Compliance Coordinator
"The best part about staying in a host family was that moment when I actually felt like part of the family. Learning that if you work hard enough at a relationship, you can establish another home and another family was a very valuable lesson for me. And it’s as a result of these kind, generous, amazing people’s actions that I chose to work at CIEE in order to give others the opportunity to experience that incredible connection."
— Camden Crosby, Support Coordinator
Thank you to our wonderful host families, for all that you do. You continue to inspire us!