Our time with Bruna was the best six months of our lives. We absolutely loved hosting her and wished our day-to-day family time could have lasted for much longer. So, near the end of her stay, my hubby and I started talking about hosting another student. We just didn’t want the experience to end….
While I found a couple of kids who I thought would blend into our family, my husband wasn’t so sure. He didn’t want to agree to host a kiddo for an entire school year when we weren’t positive that it was a good fit. So, we decided not to host immediately, but consider doing another semester student in a few months.
During that time, a new normal came about for us. We opened a business, bought a home, and continued to develop our relationship with Bruna. We loved keeping in touch with her via texting, FaceBook, Instagram, and Skype. Plus, we were planning her visit back to the US and ours to Brazil. We were figuring out our family, even though we lived in different countries.
The coordinator of the exchange program we used really wanted us to host another student. She said we were amazing host parents, which made me smile. And she reminded me that there were so many kids who wanted to do exchange programs, but that they never have enough host families to accommodate everyone. So once again, she asked, “Don’t you want to host again? Doesn’t Bruna want a brother or sister?”
To be honest, Bruna did not want a brother or sister. She was not excited about us hosting another kiddo. She was our daughter and she liked it that way. Despite this, Dane and I did talk about hosting another kid.
Ultimately, we decided that we liked our family just the way it was. Dane, Bruna, Maddie, me—it’s perfect for us. And I told our coordinator that. We wanted to nurture our family as it was and continue to develop our relationship with Bruna. Fortunately, she was understanding and stopped asking me if we wanted to host again.
I think the number of times you host depends on what you want to get out of your experience. For some people, they love to host lots of different kids from different countries and experience the day-to-day over and over and over. For us, we found our kid and are very happy to simply keep in touch with her. For us, hosting was a one-time experience that simply cannot be repeated nor replicated. Neither way is “better” or “right.” You just have to figure out what you want from hosting.
I do encourage you to give hosting a try. I cannot promise that your experience will be as blissful as ours. I’ve heard some horror stories. But the good ones outweigh the bad. We never would have had such an incredible experience with Bruna if we hadn’t gotten out of our comfort zone and taken the risk to host. And there are tons of kiddos who would love to come study in the US, but they can’t unless a family opens their home and, more importantly, their hearts.
So, do some research and see if being a host parent is something you want to experience. Here are some sites to help you start your research:
- CSIET Standards for International Student Exchange
- AFS-USA Intercultural Programs
- AYA (Academic Year in America)
- Ayusa by Intrax
- CCI Greenheart
*Not So Mommy…™ does not endorse any of the above exchange/host programs nor have I been paid to link these on my site. The above links are simply suggestions; this is NOT a complete list of all available programs. Please, do your own research, ask questions, check references, etc. in order to choose the program that will best fit your needs.
*If you have questions about hosting a student and want feedback from a former host mom, please feel free to contact me.
Read more about our hosting experience…
Photo Credit: Jack Moreh of Freerange