Host Family Articles

Stories From The Acott’s Family

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Please let us know of any families you think have the willingness and resources to help one of our exchange students. Exchange students come from one of these countries:

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Paraguay, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Vietnam.

ETC is a wonderful non-profit organization that places students all across the US.

“I think of hosting as a gift…. to the student, but also a gift that the host family gives themselves.”

— Mary Frances (host mom)

My experience with ETC goes way back to 2008 before I worked for them and my family signed up to host a boy from Brazil for the whole school year. We had a little experience hosting girls from Japan, Korea and China for a few weeks in the summer, and now felt we were ready to take a full school year student. Rodolfo arrived in the middle of Labor Day weekend and we took him straight from the Portland airport to a campground on Mt Hood because we were in the middle of a camping trip with extended family! He slept in a tent with our family of 5 his first night, ate spaghetti for dinner by the campfire, and probably thought we were all crazy! Taking a 17 year old boy from Brazil when we had a teenage daughter just starting high school? … perhaps we were!!

ETC Host Family

Things started off pretty well, but I’m not going to lie, he didn’t always seem like he was here for the right reasons, made some poor choices and broke some rules…. At the time, I didn’t know better, didn’t know I could’ve had his LC step in with some disciplinary action, and my husband and I didn’t want to have him sent home. We looked at it like, he’s here, he’s only a kid, we need to talk to him and offer guidance. So we tried that. Meanwhile I was already emailing his mom who was coming for his graduation. She came in June, stayed in our home for a week, and spoke not a bit of English! Despite the conflict & disappointment, I can still look back and see some positive things about our time with him. Everyone in my family helped Rodolfo learn about American culture & improve his English, he saw snow for the first time, we showed him places and foods he’d never seen before, and despite it ending with some bad feelings, I was proud of us all for getting through it.

The next fall we had no interest in hosting again right away, especially my husband and daughter. But in early December we were asked if we could host a Chinese boy for a week (to give them time to find another host family). The local coordinator brought the student to our house so we could meet him, he was quiet and polite, and how can you say no to a sweet kid who’s sitting in front of you? We agreed to keep him for 3 weeks, but after 1 week with Boming, we decided he could stay the rest of the year. He ate every meal with our family, never complained, helped Riley with his 3rd grade homework while learning English from it at the same time, played games with Taylor who was 4 years younger, took the school bus to school with Katrina, and became our Chinese son & brother. Boming came to visit us twice during Christmas vacations while he attended Ohio State, one of those times, bringing his parents along. They stayed in our home and celebrated Christmas with us, even though they didn’t speak a bit of English! They were cheerful, kind, and loving people. His mom helped me make Christmas cookies & even though I couldn’t speak to her, we found our own way to communicate.

Boming now lives in the Bay area with his wife Cindy, who we adore. They came to my daughter’s wedding in California 2 years ago, and came to visit us last Christmas, along with their dog and cat! We have tons of fun playing games with them when they visit.

ETC Host Family
ETC Host Family

Last year was my youngest child’s senior year in high school, and my family agreed to host again, and along came Vincent from Germany. In many ways he was an ideal exchange student, had much in common with Riley, especially eating and weightlifting! ? But when he didn’t hang out with Riley, he was happy hanging at home with whoever was here, and we had a houseful that year because my daughter and her husband moved in with us for awhile. Vincent never complained, helped out in some of my crazy recycling and energy conserving efforts, went along wherever we were going, always had a positive attitude, and could talk to, watch TV or play a game with whoever was around. And boy, was he confident, I’ve never seen a kid with more confidence! He was determined to win the ETC student trip to New York, worked on his video presentation for 2 months, and by golly, he won! He was also determined to get straight A’s in school and he did that too. I bonded with Vincent, and he’ll always be my German son.

ETC Host Family

When I was young, I always wanted to be an exchange student, but never had the opportunity. I feel like I can sort of experience it now through the eyes of these kids I’ve hosted and placed. They’re just so excited to be here, to take it all in and make the most of their time here, and it’s amazing to be a part of that experience with them.

I think of hosting as a gift…. to the student, but also a gift that the host family gives themselves, a priceless gift that comes with great memories and invitations for your family to be hosted abroad in your student’s home.

— Mary Frances (host mom and local coordinator)

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