Have you ever wondered if YOU would make a great host family?
Here’s a little guide to help you find out…
Do you have a spare bed, even if it’s just the top bunk?
Can you pull up an extra chair at the dinner table?
Do you genuinely like meeting new people?
Are you interested in learning about other cultures?
Do you love the idea of gaining a new family member from “across the sea”?
“But wait,” you say. “Surely there’s more to it than THAT. I mean, we’re pretty unusual around here. We’re busy. We’re boring. And just to be honest, most days we’re a HOT MESS!”
You know what? That’s PERFECT. All of it. INCLUDING the “hot mess, don’t have it all together” part. (I’m being perfectly serious.)
IE students aren’t coming for perfection. They’re not coming for glitz and glamor. They’re not looking for fake, plastic people who never get it wrong. They’re coming for a REAL experience with REAL people. Yes, they’re looking for adventure – but 99% of that adventure is wrapped up in the RELATIONSHIPS they find when they step off that plane.
When preparing to come to the US, our students have MANY questions about what they may find here. They wait and they wonder. They skip meals and lose sleep. But you know what? All this restless waiting isn’t centered around questions like “will I get to see the Grand Canyon” or even “what will my bedroom look like.”
We talk to our students during this time. We prepare them. And we ask questions. “What are your biggest fears? What are your worries? How can we help?”
Did you know that our students’ MAIN concerns almost always center around PEOPLE?
What will my host family be like?
Will they like me?
Will we get along?
WHO will I meet in school?
Will I make friends?
Will I be accepted?
And in those raw questions we see the REAL purpose in student exchange: one-on-one, face-to-face RELATIONSHIPS.
So let’s get back to the “hot mess” host family. You know, the one who’s late to school half the time, whose kids inexplicably lose their shoes EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. The one who might let the dishes go so they can carve out a little family game time. The one whose yard desperately needs to be mowed, and their schedule is chaotic, and they’re just not sure they should host until they “have it together” a little bit more. THAT family. (YOUR family??)
If THAT family is also genuinely interested in real connection…
If they can imagine welcoming a nervous high school teen with open arms…
If they’re willing to share their REALITY, laughing off the imperfections…
And if they’re ready to open their HEARTS, regardless of the state of the dishes or the lawn…
THAT family will find an AMAZING blessing in student exchange. It’s no surprise that so many host families and students maintain a life-long friendship. When you share LIFE together, you build a bond not easily broken. And in that relationship, everybody benefits. EVERYBODY wins.
And it all starts with a simple decision to leap: “hot mess” included.