At Cambridge Network, we love hearing stories of host families and international students becoming a family and expanding their horizons through education and harmony. Hosting an international student truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that helps you become a more global citizen. We recently received the below letter from a host mom in Alabama who has experienced the joys of hosting multiple international students. She graciously let us share her words with you, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
November 9, 2016
Dear Cambridge Network:
This is the second year that we have hosted Harrison, and he is a sophomore. Sailor M. is a freshman, and we’ve had him for almost three months. We honestly feel they are part of our family, and we call them “our boys.” They call us “Dad” and “Mom.” And of course, they love our Bichon, Cooper! He runs to get a toy for playtime when we get home in the afternoons.
But what I really want to write about is the story of developing friendships. At first, it seemed the Chinese students mostly stayed around each other. They knew other students, of course, but didn’t “hang out with them.” But with Harrison, and now Sailor, that has changed. Last year, an American student CK, asked Harrison and Jason L. over to his house to help with upcoming Relay-for-Life events. (Jason L. was another Chinese exchange student who was with us for two years but is now in college.) It was the first time they were invited to someone’s house. A friendship quickly developed among the boys and they spent time at the lake and playing football. They even went to a Disciple Now weekend retreat with other youth. It was special when they went forward to the altar with their arms around each other.
Jason graduated, but this year, Sailor has joined in the friendship bond. Also, JS and her brothers have welcomed the boys as friends, and they have the special connection of being friends both at school and at church. The boys have cheered their friends in volleyball and drama, and like hanging out at football games. It is fun to watch them tease around with each other. Now, other friends have invited them to their homes to hang out, and they also meet up at the mall. The boys are absorbing American family life and share about their own country and family. It certainly works better than just reading about a culture. They understand each other; they tease each other; they respect each other; they treasure their friendships.
Then there is one more friendship that is extra-special. Mr. Richard and Mrs. Shirley are an elderly couple who sit on our row at church. They love our boys, and our boys adore them. They give and get hugs from them; our boys show empathy to them when one of them is out sick, and Harrison and Sailor always look for them at church. I guess they are like adopted grandparents to the boys.
So, I believe friendships ease the homesickness that can come upon these students who are so far from home. Friendships develop relationships to encourage each other, cheer each other, give confidence to each other, give strength in tough times, and help them stretch out to try something new.
And all of that prepares them for life!
Kay and Brant L.
Host mom and dad to Harrison H., Sailor M., and previously to Jason L. who is now a college student
Check out our homestay blog for more information on Cambridge Network as a homestay provider, tips for hosting, and our host testimonials. If you’re interested in hosting an international student, please fill out an inquiry form!