by Jillian Sims, AYP Program Assistant
When Courtney called CCI Greenheart inquiring about hosting opportunities, she was full of enthusiasm and afraid that she was running out of time to get a chance at the experience. Speaking to her over the phone, it took a few moments to realize that this wasn’t a potential host parent calling in, but a very eager future host sibling! Her mother, Nellie, explains how Courtney was the impetus for the family to begin the process of this great adventure:
“My daughter Courtney is very interested in international studies. In the pursuit of her interest, Courtney began looking into study abroad opportunities. We realized that host families are an essential part of the study opportunity. We believe that if someone is willing to open their home and share their lifestyle with our daughter, we should do the same thing for a student in our home. This would be a wonderful opportunity for us to share our lifestyle with someone else. Courtney, who took the first step toward contacting CCI Greenheart, picked up the ball and ran with it and she has not stopped! ”
And ran with it she did! It took only a couple of days before Courtney had helped her family complete the application and soon enough the family had picked out a Brazilian girl, Paula, to join them for the upcoming year. Now that Paula is finally here, Courtney says of her new sister:
“It is absolutely amazing having Paula live with us. I love having another girl my age in the house. Even though Paula is here to learn about American culture, I have already learned so much from her and I can’t wait to teach her more about American culture and hear about how she is enjoying her American immersion experience. I am so excited about all the adventures and experiences we will have together.”
Though the girls will not be attending the same high school together, Courtney is still excited to experience this year through Paula’s eyes and is eager to see her sister make new relationships here in the states and both sides are learning from each other. Nellie observes how the new addition to her family has affected them all.
“We have learned about her culture, few Portuguese words and a little about Paula’s family. I have come to understand that by knowing Paula, for the most part, teenaged girls are the same no matter which continent they’re on. Even though Paula and Courtney grew up in different places, they are so much alike. They share similar interest, likes and dislikes. It seems as though they have known each other for years.”
And when the time comes for Courtney to go abroad to Brazil next year, she is already grateful for how this experience is preparing her and in the meantime Paula is experiencing new things, like delicious American donuts! This host mother describes the first time she shared them with her Brazilian daughter: “She could not stop eating them. Her comments were, ‘this is good, no this is really, really good… Oh, this is good.’ I was delighted to see that she enjoyed the donuts so much. Together, we ate almost the entire dozen.”
Nellie is first to tell you what a rewarding experience this has been so far. A first time host family herself, her advice to other families is this: “I would encourage families to take advantage of this opportunity to share their lives and home with a student from another country. Our lives are richer from having this experience.”
She even expressed that life with Paula has had the unintended consequence of making their family more organized! “Paula was surprised that there was a lot more routine and structure in our home than what she is accustomed to. However, she has adjusted with no difficulty and keeps us on point, because she is much disciplined.
Though it’s great to have such a wonderful student to begin with, and Paula is clearly already a full family member, Nellie shares the moment when her heart melted all the bit more: “I love having another daughter. Paula referred to me as her mom when she was talking to another student at school. From that moment on, I was like ‘putty in her hands.’”
Nellie, her husband Calvin, and Courtney are a first time Host Family in Atlanta, GA.
If you are Interested in having your own adventure filled year with a new family member from the other side of the world? Check out CCI Greenheart and the exciting hosting opportunities available to you: http://www.cci-exchange.com/usprograms/host.aspx