1) What is the best part about hosting an EF exchange student?
The special relationships that develop are priceless. Our three daughters have also benefitted immensely from these exchange experiences - we get just as much out of it as the students do. I wake up to messages regularly from my students and we Skype with them weekly. This past fall, two of our daughters got married and each had a former exchange student as a bridesmaid in their weddings! Our students will always be like daughters to us and hold a special place in our hearts. Someday our girls will host too – it’s a no-brainer.
Antonia (EF Class of 08-09) joins the Schutte - Vanderzee Wedding
2) What kinds of activities do you enjoy doing with your students?
The most memorable experiences are not the fancy trips to Disney World or Las Vegas for us, but what they appreciate most are the simple things. It's our everyday life of helping out on the farm, to picking apples to feeding the family horses and even watching the sunset and viewing the millions of stars that can be seen from our rural home - which is a first for many students who come from big cities, with tall buildings and bright lights. It’s the little things that are the big things.
3) What advice would you give to a potential host family?
You have the opportunity to change lives for the better - both the host family's and the student's. Broadening student’s horizons is just one of many important benefits to hosting - we personally feel we have raised more globally aware children because of the diversity in our home. Being able to expose our children to new cultures, and our exchange students to a new lifestyle, are all benefits of the exchange experience. The rewarding feelings that we have from watching the change in our students from Welcome Days in NYC to their departure at the end of the year are invaluable. Who knew a stranger living thousands of miles away could become such an important part of your life?
As empty-nesters, Lisa and Paul are not planning on slowing down anytime soon. They are currently host parents to two exchange students in the Class of ’17. Little do their students' know, they've not only been inducted into an open environment of language sharing and global awareness, but an international family for years to come.
Sofia (EF Class of 06-07) with host mom Lisa