So what led us to hosting an exchange student? For those of you who know me, you know my parents hosted two exchange student when I was in high school. The first student was actually my idea. I overheard some teachers talking about a student who was in a family, but it wasn't working out. I said, "We will host her! I will ask my mom!" Surprisingly, my parents were on board, and after a quick home visit, they picked up Nuri from the agency representative's home, shortly after that conversation. Nuri fit in perfectly with our family of 6. She introduced us to Korean food, K-Pop, and taught me Korean on the weekends. My dad used to ask me why she had a better grade than me in English. Probably because I went to bed, and she stayed up late studying. When we said goodbye at the airport no one cried until we got in our car and put our seat belts on, and then my mom, sister, and I burst into tears. Nuri later told us she did not cry until she got on the plane. Eleven years later I got the opportunity to visit her in Korea and meet her family, and fiance. It was a great experience.
Nuri and I at a school dance in 2004
I was in 8th grade and she was in 9th. Nuri and I with her mom and dad in Korea in 2015.
The second student was Arisma. My parents hosted her at the request of the agency, because if she did not find a host family, she wouldn't be able to come to the USA. Again, I encouraged my parents to say, "yes!", and they did. She was a freshman with me in high school, and was a year older. She brought my brothers Muay Thai boxing shorts and my mom beautiful Thai pottery. There was a little bit of a language barrier that challenged all of us. Although, Arisma was only with us for a couple of months, we kept in touch. And ten years later, I was able to visit her in Bangkok, Thailand. I was able to meet her granny, grandpa, and aunt briefly. She took me on so many adventures in Thailand. I rode my first elephant with her and visited my first Buddhist temple with her. She had converted to Christianity a few months before I came and visited, and God brought us together even more.
Arisma and I in 2014. I am wearing a Arisma and I in Bangkok enjoying
traditional Thai outfit a Thai tea and iced coffee in 2015
My experiences with Nuri and Arisma are probably had the biggest impact on our decision to host a student. Please ask me any questions you might have about hosting! I would love to talk with you and refer you if you decide that's what you want to do! Stay tuned for more blog posts about this amazing journey!
Lea wearing the Gardner Edgerton Blazers shirt I sent her for her birthday!