Today’s guest post is brought to you by Marcia Ricketts Morris. She hosted two international students this year, Dan and Yu, in New England. Marcia’s children are now adults, and she was inspired to fill her empty nest with students from gphomestay. She cared for the international students that she hosted as if they were her own. Read about her experiences below.
Can you tell us a little more about the student you hosted this year?
I hosted two of the most beautiful boys any mother would want. Yu was my homebody. He enjoyed eating Jamaican food, and loved watching sports, especially the Red Sox and the Patriots while he hung out with me. This past year, we would sit and talk about school, Jamaica and China. We would talk a lot about what was happening around the world.
Dan enjoyed going out a lot with his friends. Sometimes they would sleep over, and I would make breakfast, lunch and dinner for them the next day. He enjoyed talking about is hometown, and he loved to shop. He also loved times when we would just sit and talk. He would tell me all about his day, school, his parents and friends back home.
What was it like when you first met your student(s)?
With Yu, it was great. When he arrived to my home, I opened the door and his mother, father, uncle and cousin had accompanied him. I welcomed them in. We sat, talked, ate and, in the end, we felt as if we had known each other for years. It was amazing!
Dan was an exciting and eager young man when he first arrived. He was the first between us to notice me at the airport, and he instantly gave me a big hug. He arrived with his mother, and I took her to her hotel and assisted her with checking-in. The next day, we picked her up and took her shopping and sightseeing in Boston. She stayed for a week, and spent the last two days with me. For a short time, we became a family.
What inspired you to become a host parent?
A conversation with a colleague. She had a niece who was a host parent and found it very rewarding. After further consideration and given the fact that all my children were adults and I had become an empty nester, I thought, “why not? I have the space and I love children.” So I applied, and the rest is history.
Did you have any expectations about hosting before the student arrived? What were some things you got out of the experience that you did not expect?
I had no expectations about being a host parent, because I am very flexible. I did not expect for them to look to me as if I was their mother and for me to love them, as if they were my sons. Dan showed me how to cook fried rice, plus many other Asian cuisines. We had fun. They had fun because I allowed them to be themselves. We learned from each other too, since there were many cultural difference, wide and many.
Is there anything you wish you had known about hosting a student before you started hosting?
Nothing at all. The joy is in the discovery.
How has your relationship changed with the student as their host parent?
It has allowed me to be more appreciative and giving. I have learned to fully welcome children in my home with the deepest of love and respect. I am truly grateful for this wonderful opportunity to host. I would do it over and over again for as long as I’m able to.
Gphomestay is wonderful company to host for. My empty nest is not empty any more.
Any advice you’d like to offer future families interested in hosting an international student?
Make sure you yourself are willing to give. Make sure you are prepared to love, care and listen to your host children. You are their interim parents and you need to be flexible as if they were your own children.
Can you describe graduation with your student this year?
Graduation was bittersweet. I was overcome with both joy and sadness. The moment had arrived, with great anticipation and excitement, but sadness, as I knew the days we shared were numbered. Nevertheless, I helped him get dress with care and precision, just as any proud parent would. We attended graduation and tears of joy flooded my eyes, afterwards we celebrated with a wonderful dinner with his parents. On Sunday, I hosted a congratulatory barbecue inclusive of custom ordered Class of 2016 balloons, cakes and entertainment. His family and friends were thankful and honored with the care and love I’ve extended to him. I made a small speech thanking him for his kindness and generous spirit. My home has become his and he will always be welcome.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to gphomestay for giving me the opportunity to care for these students. It has been one of the most rewarding and truly satisfying jobs to date in my life. I felt at no time that this was an obligation, but a true pleasure to play a part in the development and nurturing of such wonderful young people.