It started in 2009. A lady from the ward asked if we would like to host a Japanese student for a week. They were going to host, and it’s always easier if you have another family to share the driving, so she recruited me. We talked it over as a family and thought that sounded like a fun experience. That family actually backed out and didn’t host, but I guess I should be thankful to her for introducing us to this hosting thing.
We were sent Urichiro (Yes, I probably spelled that wrong), a quiet, shy boy from Japan. We remember that he was a slow eater, tiny bites, and he was worried that he would have to eat huge amounts of food. We did not make him eat huge amounts of food. We tried to take him some fun places and do some fun things with him. We had a great experience.
That same company also does a program with Chinese girls in the summer, and the coordinator called in 2010 and asked if we would be willing to host 2 girls for two weeks. We said we would, and Daisy and Vivian came to stay with us. I guess they are given American names, or they chose their own, when they start English class.
I remember the coordinator told us that she was going to place these two girls with us, that they were special. One was beautiful and the other was from an important family, they were both from a private school. Can you tell which one was which?
Since then, we have hosted several more students.
There was Kodai. He’s the one who brought us our favorite frisbee called the “Dojeebee”.
He was here for our wettest, most miserable Halloween ever. Poor boy had no idea what trick-or-treating was or why we were making him dress up and go around the neighborhood in the POURING rain.
In 2011 we hosted Chinese girls again. Phoebe and Coco were their names. They were a little younger, just as shy. I think this year was the most frustrating because I couldn’t find a decent carpool, and had to drive the girls and my kids, who were buddies, back and forth to Provo so many times.
But it was still a fun experience, We went to a cast party for the play we were in, Thanksgiving Point farm and dino museum, bowling, out to eat.
I think the kids like hosting because for once, we go and do fun things almost every day. We do get paid to host the girls, but with a big family like we have, that money only goes so far. One trip to Park City for the Alpine Slide takes about a big chunk, but we have fun while they are here. Sadly, our conversational Japanese and Chinese has not improved.
That fall we hosted Kazuki from Japan.
We took him to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Hermanos, along with our ward Halloween party.
And bowling. There always must be a bowling activity.
Lest you think we ONLY go bowling when we have exchange students, I must point out that is false. We do go bowling at other times, when the kids beg and plead enough. They really love to bowl. I wish it were cheaper or there were a bowling ally closer to us, we would go more.
In 2012, I was tired of the whole DRIVE to Provo thing, so we decided to go with a different program, and hosted Marie from France.
Marie just came and stayed. No school, no schedule. It was a little different, but still fun.
She was here longer than the others, too. Three weeks. She was a good sport, and lots of fun to have around.
Of course, we can blame our acquiring a cat on Marie. Ryan was out of town, and this cat started to show up. Marie said we had to feed it. So we did. And she is now our cat.
We even took her camping. Worst camping trip. Rain, rain, rain. But she wanted to fish, and thankfully my uncle Keith took her out to the lake and she caught a fish.
Right after Marie left, we got a call from another coordinator to let us know that our year long exchange student had been approved, and we would be getting a girl from Germany in August. We had no idea what we were in for, but all the other experiences had been good, so we got rooms ready and Larissa came just before school started.
It’s a different experience welcoming an exchange student for the whole year. They are here for the chores, the meals, the homework and school and boring stuff, not just the fun stuff. But Larissa is such a cute girl, she made everything fun. We were quite blessed to have her with us that year. Cole left for college, so with her, we still had five at home.
She immediately made friends, even had dates.
It was fun to have her in our family, and I think she will be a good friend for ever. It was very hard to say goodbye when she left, and we are looking forward to having her come visit again this summer.
While she was here, we skipped on hosting a Japanese student, but we did host Chinese girls again in the summer of 2013.
Xio and Yiou didn’t take American names like the other girls had, but they were fun.
It was a bit different to go from a member of the family to “hosting” again, but we got used to it. This time none of the girls did the buddy program, and I did have a carpool (thank goodness!) and they moved the host school to Orem, so it was a shorter drive.
We took them to Temple Square to a concert, bowling (of course), to ice cream, even hiking.
It was a bit of a difficult time to have exchange students because I was in the thick of a play at the Scera theater. We brought the girls along to a dress rehearsal. Next time we host, remember not to do it at the same time as a play.
2014. I read in the Lone Peak email that they were looking for host families to host girls from Taiwan for a short stay. I called about that to find out more information, and it sounded like something we could do. We only have to transport the girls to Lone Peak. Their group has taken them places and done all the fun things that we would normally do with them. They have gone cross country skiing (the girls did NOT like that one), shopping, temple square, Music and the Spoken word, they even had a square dance last night.
We ended up with three girls this time. Everyone else has two, but I told them we could take three if we needed to. I cleaned out two rooms for them, but they are all together in our guest room/Cole’s room. There’s a queen bed and a twin in there, so I guess they just felt happier all together. They are Jessica, Cindy, and Cathy. And I can tell them apart now. We have taken them out to dinner, to a movie, to Thanksgiving Point, and we had a game night with another family in our ward who the parents both speak Chinese.
Yesterday after school we made sugar cookies and they had a blast cutting out cookies and then frosting them. I don’t know if they get to cook much at home, but they thought it was fun.
Then they had an activity with their group at night where they were square dancing. Today they went to school at Lone Peak, and after school they are going to eat the world’s first KFC and then go to the Jazz game. I love that they are doing fun things with their group so we don’t have to feel responsible for ALL the fun stuff, especially right now while school is in and we are busy. I think tomorrow night will be bowling, then Saturday we have the whole day with them before they leave on Sunday.
So,unless I have forgotten someone, in five years we have hosted….
3 Japanese boys
6 Chinese girls
1 French girl
1 German girl
3 Taiwanese girls
for a total of 14 exchange students. We have learned from them, and have enjoyed welcoming them into our family. Hopefully we show them a good picture of what it’s like to be an American, and they go home with fond memories of us. Someone asked me why we do this hosting thing. To give my kids experiences. I can’t afford to take my family all over the world, but that doesn’t stop us from meeting people and possibly making friends with people from all over. There is SO much that we can learn from hosting students from other cultures. I want to teach my kids tolerance, how to be nice to people they might not know so well, how to control their rude behavior at home when there are guests around, and that it’s ok to be different. And if we get to have a bunch of fun in the process, then that’s even better.