Recently we signed up to host an AFS student at our house. A neighboring couple encouraged us to consider it – they are currently hosting a student from Denmark for the duration of the 2013/2014 school year and they are really enjoying the experience.
Becoming a host requires a bit of paperwork; and, of course, the commitment to sharing your home with a stranger from another country. So why do it? For Wendy and me it’s mainly based on the good experiences we’ve had ourselves. Wendy met a number of exchange students when she was going to school, and some of them became close friends. I spent some time with a family in France when I was a teenager, and it was amazing to see how much my French improved as a result. But beyond simply improving language skills, it’s a real eye opener to participate in day to day family life in a different culture. It will be nice to provide that experience for someone else.
Secondarily, it will be really interesting to see ourselves through the eyes of a person from a different culture. We may suddenly find ourselves reconsidering long established habits and attitudes.
Last, but not least, we’re both very interested in learning more about other countries and the people that live there. Hosting will be a great opportunity to expand our horizons, and perhaps create a lasting bond.
Of course, as Wendy wisely cautions me, there will inevitably be a few difficult situations to navigate – we’re talking about teenagers here, so a bit of drama is par for the course. We’re not too worried though – hopefully there won’t be any issues that can’t be overcome by a bit of humor, patience, and an open mind.