I grew up in a family where my parents hosted and it was one of the most memorable experiences. Making lifetime friendships as I still communicate with most of them to this day. We have even visited two of them while visiting their country.
Now that I am married and have a family of my own I wanted to give this amazing experience to my own children and husband. This year was our first year hosting.
When Xenia (from Spain) arrived we were so excited to meet her because from her application letter she seemed like she would fit in great with our family and we were right. We have enjoyed our time with her and watching her step outside her comfort zone and grow as a person but my favorite thing was watching my children’s eyes open to a whole other culture. Not everyone lives as we do and there was a sense of appreciation of what we have established in their little hearts. We are so grateful to have this experience for all of us.
Our exchange student has been such a blessing in our lives. We had no idea we were missing anything until she came into our lives. Having a host daughter has made us laugh harder then we have ever have before. It’s been so special to see my kids love her, bond with her, and my daughter’s closest confident in a time of her life. She has become not just a daughter to me, but my friend.
She helps with chores with the kids, helps with cooking, yardwork, she jumps right in.
We love our Marina.
“This is Nguyen’s (Ivy) year. We thought we were taking a break from hosting exchange students but the opportunity came up to host one of the first Vietnamese students with ETC. After we found out she wanted to come to Colorado, we looked at her profile and said “Yes” because of her English score and musical skills.
Being an experienced host family of 6 previous students from China, Korea, and Germany, we were expecting a shy introverted girl and to our surprise we got an energetic, wanting to be in America, girl. Ivy has embraced our family and culture from the very beginning like she had been with us her whole life. She speaks English well and Jeff was so impressed with her piano skills that for her birthday, he surprised her with a parlor piano for her to practice. Jeff (my husband) has commented several times that if he could adopt her as our own, he would. We learned from Ivy how they practice religion, how the family unit revolves around the father and school activities, food is for fellowship and they take great pride in their ancient celebrations. We were impressed with Ivy’s mom who, when the Lunar New Year came around this year, she sent “Lucky Money” to our daughter and our other exchange daughter from China for them to celebrate as a family in this festival.
Even though she hasn’t joined any extra-curricular activities at school, she is very involved with the family. She goes wherever we go as a family, loves being part of our church youth group (she chose to give her International Education Week presentation to the youth group), and has made a lot of friends. We have laughed a lot. Everything is part of The Adventure! We would host Vietnamese students again.”
“We are the Hoffmann’s and we have thoroughly enjoyed hosting four ETC students over the past 4 years. We had 3 full-year students, one semester student and have been a Welcome Family and a temporary family for several others. Our son Kezi is originally from China, but is currently studying in the U.S. He has been visiting us every Christmas since 2014 and with his continued presence in the U.S., we have been able to maintain a strong relationship. Although distance makes it a little harder, we also have a continued great relationship with our daughter Martina and son Giammarco, who are both from Italy. And with us currently is our new daughter, Alba, who is from Spain.
As you would expect, all of the students have different personalities and backgrounds. Discovering those and learning their culture and their individuality is a huge part of the joy that these students have brought to our family. Our boys, now 13 and 11, have built very strong bonds with their exchange student siblings and we believe that these will continue on for a long time to come. The program has been successful in our mind, as our family has expanded to include these students, and we have learned so much. Is it always easy and smooth? No, but which family dynamic is? However, with lots of communication and curiosity about the culture and background of our exchange students, we overcame all situations and had an immensely positive experience all these years.
Hosting takes all kinds of families and everyone benefits from this unique experience. We love to travel and now that we have children all over the world – it gives us even more reason to travel. If you have never hosted before – we say GO FOR IT!”
“Carson and I have loved being host parents this year! We are a young family, I just had our first daughter this past October. It was fun to have Yeonsoo around for the pregnancy and infancy stages, she has a lot of fun with our baby and can be very helpful! Having Yeonsoo has helped me get out with the baby more and stay more involved in the community which combats the loneliness and isolation many first time moms feel. We have loved learning about Korea and I am finding myself cheering for Korea in the Winter Olympics Carson and I love to travel and we plan on visiting Yeonsoo in Seoul as soon as we can. I truly recommend being a host parent to any young mom, it has been a great experience for us!”
“We haven’t given birth to any children but now we have our Angel and our Star! Our definition of ETC is ‘Exceptionally Talented Company’. When hosting through another organization, we were left feeling empty. We still had a strong desire to host students from other countries. Then we found ETC and they made sense of things. They guided us through the process by providing educational materials, plus the way that students and families are matched is second to none! Our first student (daughter) Angelica returns to visit us each year and we are fortunate to have visited her in Sweden. Her family has visited us here and we have visited them as well now. We have a real family in Sweden! When we decided to host again two years later, Angelica was part of the process in choosing Stella to be part of our family. Now we also have Stella and her family who have visited and we will visit Germany later this year. Next time we host there will be even more opinions about who we want in our global family! We know that ETC will be there to help us make a good choice for a wonderful and successful exchange and a lasting relationship for a lifetime.
ETC is not concerned with money, prestige, or themselves. The goal for ETC is a true cultural exchange that makes a difference in peoples lives. True to that mission, our lives have been forever changed for the better. Thank you ETC.”
“This year we are hosting two exchange students. We have Amy from Thailand and Gabby from France (Africa/Lebanon). This is our first year hosting students but we will most definitely do it again. We host through Education Travel and Culture. Basically we had to fill out an application, get screened and select the country and gender of the student we preferred. Initially, we planned to host a single student. As time went on I got to thinking that since our kids are so young we should really host 2 students. We thought if nothing else the students could hang out with each other and be able to help one another in school.
The girls arrived on August 4th and 5th and our international family was born. Gabby and Amy slid into the flow of our family pretty easily. I have heard some stories about exchange students being a pain or partying too much. These girls are not like that at all, partially because they have a healthy fear of me but mostly because they are really good kids. From the first day we picked the girls up we have been learning about their cultures, having interesting conversations and creating memories for the entire family. Some people with small kids are hesitant to host an exchange student. Our experience has been that our kids (7yrs and 4yrs) love our students. They love to wake them up early, play games with them, ask them how to say different words in their languages and treat them like they would an older sibling.
The best part about hosting students has been the way our kids look up to them. In a world where many young women look up to celebrities to model themselves after I get to have my children look up to two educated, confident and motivated young women. Another awesome thing to observe is watching my kids explaining American culture or social norms.
We have had our students for 5 months now and it is hard to picture what things will be like when they go back home. I know that our family has benefitted beyond belief by this experience and I hope they have too. I am already making plans for the family to go and visit both France and Thailand. I kind of feel like I am going to show up on their doorstep and let them take care of me for a bit.
A lot of people want to know if we get paid to be host parents. We do not. Granted teens come with expenses but they also bring a lot to our family. I have not taken my kids to another country but they have gotten to learn about culture, traditions, belief systems and foreign economic structures. Our family has gotten to host Thai and French food parties. I have gotten to converse with their parents in Thailand and Africa. I get to practice parenting teens and have girl talks whenever I want.
I have always felt that families are not born but instead formed. Now my family is international and I am grateful we took the leap and decided to host students. These ladies may cross oceans to get back home but they will always have a place in our hearts. They also better continue being dedicated to their educations and future or they will have a rude awakening when their American Mom shows up to get them back in line “
“We are a retired military family who has experienced much of the world. We have had great opportunities over the years by living overseas in both Croatia and South Korea and have made many friends from around the world. The opportunity we have had this year to hosting an exchange has been nothing short of awesome. It has been eye-opening not only for our exchange student from Brazil but also for our family as a whole. We have learned a great deal about Brazilian culture, our host students country, just as he has learned a great deal about our American culture, language, history. This has been one of the best things we have ever done. Not only has our host student been enriched by this experience but so has our family. It has been ‘a win, win’ opportunity for everyone.”
“While enjoying the Maricopa County Fair last year, my 12- year-old son, who loves to collect business cards, happened to find the ETC booth. When he asked me what their business was all about, Nyree & Sheri, ETC representatives, were more than happy to talk my ear off. Seriously, they were very pleasant ladies and I was interested in eventually hosting a foreign exchange student, but now just wasn’t the time. Little did I know that in only 4 months’ time, despite my initial resistance, I would be standing in Sky Harbor Airport waiting for my German foreign exchange student to arrive? The day Gina Miller came into my life was a day I will treasure forever. What started out to be an adventure turned out to be much more then I could have ever expected. I didn’t just host some student from another country; I ended up sharing my life with a beautiful young lady who I now consider to be my daughter and part of the family. How could I have ever known that a simple business card would have such an impact? We have had an amazing year together. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve learned from each other, but more importantly, we have grown together. And now, as the time draws nearer for Gina to return home, I know that when she leaves, she will be taking a piece of my heart with her. I’m not sure how our family is going to be able to get along without her. It’s funny but Gina keeps telling me that she will miss me more than I will miss her but from one mom to another; there is nothing stronger than a mother’s love for her children. I know I will love her always and miss her dearly each and every day but I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
“I can’t even begin to tell you what Joris has meant to our family this year. Just this morning he surprised me for my birthday! Joris woke up at 4 am to make me & my husband breakfast! We are SO lucky to have a thoughtful kiddo! He fits in perfectly with our family and has gotten along so well with our own two sons that it feels like he has been our son forever.
We will never forget this amazing experience and encourage everyone who can to open their heart to an exchange student. It really will change your life forever!”
“Dear Julie, Alan, Dalton, Shay, Dillon & Everybody else from this family, I just wanted to say thank you! Thank you for everything! For letting me, a total stranger, live with you for 11 months, for always being there for me, for always helping me…just for EVERYTHING! I have learned so much from you, but the most important part is, that I have found a new family that I really, really don’t want to leave so soon! I know all of you will always be in my heart and that I have awesome memories with you that nobody can ever take away from me! I love you all and hope to come back soon! Thank you for an amazing 9 months, so far. You are the best host family that anybody can ever with for! I will miss you so much!”
(503) 222-9803 in Portland
(877) 222-9803 Toll Free
Fax: (503) 227-7224
1029 SW Washington Street Portland, OR 97205