Julia discovered life as a big sister in rural Wisconsin, where she was able to share her culture with her younger host siblings. Meet Leah and Justin from Westby, Wisconsin, who welcomed Julia from Norway into their home.
"Nobody can prepare you for how much these students really will become part of your family. My kids think of all their exchange students as true siblings."
Why did you decide to host an exchange student?
We started hosting when our twins were 18 months and have continued to do so every year for the past four years. We wanted our kids to grow up with a sense of global awareness and cultural perspective. Our foreign daughters have fit seamlessly into out family and our own daughters have gained several big sisters.
What's it like to host with younger children in the home?
We never once had any hesitations about welcoming a teenager into our household. EF does an incredible job screening their students - all of our host daughters have been open-minded, mature and eager to become a true part of our family. I am glad that we didn't wait until our girls were older for them to have this experience. It's been such a formative part of their childhood.
Why did you decide to host Julia this year?
We decided we wanted to host a Norwegian student this year because the area we live in has a huge Norwegian heritage. The high school mascot is even called the Westby Norsemen! Julia is known around town. People can't wait to meet her and learn about Norwegian culture from an actual Norwegian person.
What is your favorite memory from hosting?
Julia's family from Norway recently came to visit us and the moment they arrived it was like they were our second family. My oldest daughter is the same age as Julia's Norwegian sister, and even though they couldn't communicate, they played together for hours. It's true what they say - now we have family all over the world.
Want to learn more about the Monroe Family's experience? Check out their full story.