by Jillian Sims, Academic Year Program Assistant
“Tonight he told us he has seen 4 kinds of dogs in America– a small dog, a big dog, a hot dog, and a corn dog–all with a twinkle in his eye.”
This witty observation from their Vietnamese exchange student, Minh, is just one of many little delights shared by CCI Greenheart’s first time host parents, Ryan and Stacy, about their family’s exchange experience.
“Through the years we have been interested in hosting and enjoyed meeting exchange students,” they said. When their oldest son recently left the home, they thought the timing was right and they were ready to share their life—and their new spare room. “The idea that our children at home would benefit from exposure to another culture and a chance to give a little bit of themselves for the benefit of another really appealed to us as parents, as well. Once we met Minh on Skype we knew we were in for a great year!”
And a great start to the year the family has certainly experienced! Whether having some back yard trampoline fun, making outings to family fun parks or nearby sites like Mt. Rainer, or just hanging around the house where their student has started a precedent of jumping out and delightfully surprising their youngest, Minh has certainly become a fast friend and family member.
While their hosting journey has just begun, Ryan shares his thoughts on the experience of host parenting:
“Hosting, so far, has been everything that having a child brings, in a shorter time frame. The capacity to open your heart and let a new family member in is incredible. While there are challenges and constant learning, the benefits far outweigh these. The impact on the family has been very positive and eye opening, with Minh bringing a dynamic that strengthens the family in so many ways.”
Part of this eye opening adventure includes experiencing everyday life through their student’s eyes. Even yard work is a new and exciting adventure that Minh enjoys greatly. He was so enthusiastic about it the first time he mowed he continued walking and made several passes over the neighbor’s lawn, too! Minh’s enthusiasm and interest in new experiences and learning opportunities continue to impress the family.“Minh never gives up on a project, another great example to us. Lots of little differences in America surprise Minh but he is very adaptable and willing to try anything.”
And perhaps this is the most wonderful thing of all when it comes to hosting – the reflection of family life that hosting a student brings out for most families. Ryan speaks of this very often noted observation amongst host families;
“The biggest and most impactful learning since Minh has arrived is how the things that are important in life became a priority again. Through Minh’s example and the act of inviting him into the family group, we have been allowed to review what we prioritize, eliminate some selfishness, and understand the value of family, communication, quality time, and laughter.”
Thank you, Ryan and Stacy, for sharing your life and offering so many great opportunities to Minh!
Are you ready for your own adventure, right from your home? Learn about becoming a host parent with CCI Greenheart, the only green cultural exchange organization with over 25 years of experience. Without our generous hosts — couples without children, retirees, singles, working parents — the life-changing exchange experience for hundreds of international high schools students would not be possible.