Meet Ingrid. She’s our newest foreign exchange student – tall, blond and Norwegian.
Arriving August 12, she begins at Academic Magnet High School on August 17 and will be a daughter to us for the next year. We cannot wait. It is going to be a great year, certain to change us all.
Stephanie from France was our first foreign exchange student 25 years ago through Rotary International. She is now very much grown up and ours has become a rich and wondrous lifelong relationship. She remains very much a part of our lives today and we enjoy regular get-togethers with her and her family in their suburban Philadelphia home. We could have never imagined when this young 16-year old French girl walked across our threshold a quarter century ago our entire family was going to be so blessed. Later there was Maria from Spain, Peter from Germany, Alen from Bosnia and Pasha from Moldova. This will be our first time hosting without children at home so we expect it to be different… but the same.
As a family, we do not try to be something we are not to the student. How can you be on your best behavior for a year? You cannot. So, we are real.
We have problems. We find solutions. We argue. We work things out. Life does not go as planned. We deal with it. We have stuff. Our students have stuff. So, we link arms and find strength in doing life together. And in doing so, build bonds lasting a lifetime.
It is invigorating to have someone from another culture in your life. It expands your worldview. Enjoy sitting down at dinner with them each evening. Help them with homework. Learn about their culture. Hear about their struggles and share your own. Talk about life. Be a parent, a mentor, a friend.
Hosting a student will enrich your family’s life in profound ways you never expected. If you have children at home, what a remarkable opportunity for them. It will enhance their lives in so many wonderful ways. Twenty years from now, your kids will still be talking about it, just like ours do today.
School is about to begin. Go host a foreign exchange student. And give a big Charleston welcome to Ingrid when you meet her.