“When we were first considering hosting, we really didn't know what we were in for. The experience has turned out to be so much more than we ever could have hoped for.” -host parents Ruth and Kevin
Ruth and Kevin of Wyoming have been EF host parents since 2014, building their family with eight exchange daughters from Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Their local coordinator calls them “magic” since they have the uncanny ability to make students feel right at home once they arrive. But how do they do it?
We recently had the privilege of chatting with Ruth and Kevin about their hosting experiences, what they’ve learned over the last few years and what advice they would give to new host parents.
How did you first get involved with hosting?
We have always loved sharing our home with others. We previously hosted nurses and college students, so when we were approached by a fellow school board member with a girl from Switzerland, we decided to give it a try. We fell in love with [our first student], and even though we could never replace her, we enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to do it again, and again, and, well, you know what I mean.
What is your favorite part of hosting?
Our favorite part is getting to know and fall in love with some truly amazing and wonderful young women. We just love the spirit of adventure and love they bring to our home. They become our children and are added to our family, and I am sure we will love them the rest of our lives.
What major lessons have you learned through hosting?
It's very interesting that although everybody has their own culture, language and differences, we are all human, and 95% of who we are is the same. Our girls all have the same ambitions and fears and are not afraid to love when they are loved. They have all had terrific families that support them, and we have also enjoyed getting to meet and know them.
Where have you traveled because of hosting international students?
We have taken two trips to Europe. Our first trip was after hosting our first two girls, Alex and Lotta. We flew into Norway and picked up both girls and drove through the continent meeting our next two students. I think we visited eight countries on that trip. On our second trip to Norway, five of our other girls came and spent a week with us. The girls all got along wonderfully and have become great friends. The love we felt being together with all our girls is truly indescribable.
Why do you continue to host?
It’s selfish really. We have found that love is not a zero-sum game. Every time we add another daughter to our family, the love we give them is small compared to the love and appreciation they give back to us. These kids come to us with some fear and apprehension, but with a great expectation of their year here. We love them and make them a part of our family, and before you know it, they love us back! I am sure we will reap the benefits of that love for the rest of our lives.
If a new family walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip about hosting, what would it be?
To love them and accept them for who they are. They have parents at home who care for them and are responsible for their future. A host parent is more like a grandparent. We get to love them, spoil them, watch them mature and then we tearfully send them home.
Anything else you would like to add?
When we were first considering hosting, we really didn't know what we were in for. The experience has turned out to be so much more than we ever could have hoped for. Our host daughters are scattered all across Europe. We visit them, and they visit us, and the bonds we have forged will never break. They are truly a part of our family and we consider our choice to host one of our best decisions we have ever made. Our girls all want us to host a Spanish girl next year, so we can all go visit someplace warm!
Deciding to welcome a student into your home is no small task, but our repeat host families truly see the benefits of opening their homes again and again. Are you a previous host family interested in hosting again? Click here to get started.
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