“Way to Go, Julie…”

Christa and Brian Tesch may be new host parents, but they already feel right at home hosting 16 year old Julie.

“She is a perfect mix of my kids’ personalities,” shares Christa. “I swear she could be my child! They all get along really well.”

The Tesch family has two children of their own, 19 year old Zachary and 14 year old Gracelyn. At 16 years old, their eager German exchange student splits the difference and fits right in the middle – the “3rd wheel” they didn’t know they were missing.

While the Tesch family is thrilled at how quickly Julie has become a part of the family, they weren’t originally planning to host at all! Christa shares that she was thinking of people who she could refer to host, since she is friends with an iE staff member and had been hearing about how host families were in short supply. But one day she took stock of her family and home and realized THEY were actually perfected suited to host as well!

“I thought to myself, I have a good home, I have the ability to take in a student,” shares Christa, “So I think this is what we’re supposed to do!”

The week following that decision was a whirlwind – changing their home office into a bedroom with all the logistics that follow – and of course, the most important task, choosing their student!

“We let the kids help decide, and we used some instincts,” remembers Christa. “We all felt really strongly about Julie!!”

Christa shares that once the decision was made to host, a NEW fear emerged: “What if I get attached and have to send her home?” We’ve heard from many host families that saying goodbye is often the most difficult piece of the puzzle, and this brand new host mom innately knew that could be a challenge.

Unfortunately for Christa, “getting attached” has already happened in full force… but as with everything else, this family just loves to laugh about it.

For example, Christa, host sister Grace, and their friend Taylor took Julie shopping for the homecoming dance. While they chatted, they agreed they would ALL miss her so much when they had to say goodbye! Grace teased that Julie had made their worst fear come true… Now they HAD gotten attached and they DID dread having to say goodbye!! “Yeah, way to go, Julie,” she teased. And to her friend Taylor she said, “If you think THIS is bad, you should try LIVING with her!” The friends burst into laughter… usually “you should try living with her” is a BAD thing… but this time it means “you couldn’t possibly understand how wonderful she is unless you live with her!” What a sweet moment and memory – and what a lucky student Julie is to be so warmly welcomed.

All joking aside, the Tesch family is enjoying their first hosting experience so much, and Christa feels she has gained some perspective as well.

“It’s HUGE what we’re asking these kids to do!” she says. “They’re supposed to come here and adapt to our way of life, and that takes a lot.”

Christa says that they’ve found that showing an interest in Julie and asking her about Germany made all the difference in establishing an early connection. Right off the bat Grace was asking Julie to help her learn some words in German. And that’s all it takes, Christa shared – just showing you’re interested in THEM.

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