When I was a kid we hosted a fantastic exchange student from Brazil, Fabiana, she shared my room, acted as another big sister, and opened my eyes to the world outside of my hometown. We still keep in touch with her and she even visited my dad in Dubai on her honeymoon, we call her our Brazilian sister! My sister and I are even trying to plan a visit to see her and her family in the fall, this would be the first time we have seen her in person in over 20 years! How can we possibly have kept in touch with someone in another country for so long? Well we lost touch for a while (at least I did, I was like 10 years old!)but with the invention of Facebook and social media we are able to be involved in her life in real time. We are friends with her husband and follow along in their lives as they raise two young children and she fights for the rights of the elderly in her home country!
As an adult I have grown to love traveling and have been to 9 countries, but I realize that time and money do not allow me to travel ALL THE TIME like I would like to! I saw an ad on Facebook about a year ago to be a Local Coordinator for an exchange organization, I thought that could be a great way to make a little extra money and to experience life in other countries without having to travel, because you know, time and money are real things! I did my research and settled on Education Travel and Culture (ETC)! Now as one of my many jobs, I find host families for foreign exchange students! I look after kids from Spain, France, Vietnam, and more, making sure that they are enjoying their school year in the US with their volunteer families.
After a few months of this I realized I needed to be more involved, and I somehow wrangled my husband into hosting not 1 but 2 teenage girls! I know we sounded crazy to a lot of people but I really can’t imagine a better experience! If you have not met Emma and Emelie, you are missing out! Yes, I said Emma and Emelie, I don’t know why I tried to make it difficult on myself! Emma is 17 and came to us from Italy, she is quiet but has the funniest jokes. Emelie is from Germany, she is our talker and thinks America is the coolest of the cool. They have both invited us to visit them in their home countries which we plan to do but the thought of them going home is already making us both cry! I can’t wait to follow their journeys through graduation, college, marriage, children, and all of the other life events they will have.
I am so glad that we decided to host and that I get to be a part of ETC! Fulfilling the dreams of students from around the world and creating a community for them here in my hometown is one of my favorite things! It’s not always easy, but it is always an adventure!
These kids are amazing and they would love to have you open your heart and home to them like we have! I promise you won’t regret it, at least until you are crying uncontrollably in the airport telling them goodbye for now!
– Chelsea G. (host mom and local coordinator)
(503) 222-9803 in Portland
(877) 222-9803 Toll Free
Fax: (503) 227-7224
1029 SW Washington Street Portland, OR 97205