That was my mom's philosophy and the reason we always had international exchange students and other visitors in our home growing up. We hosted a girl from Italy, 3 boys from Spain, a doctor from China, to name a few. I can only imagine the dull and tranquil life we might have had if my mom had not spiced things up with "set an extra 10 plates for Thanksgiving dinner. I found some Bosnian refugees!"
I can say that next to music lessons, hosting internationals was the best educational experience my parents gave me. Because we invited people to our house, they invited us to theirs. The summer after my Junior year of High school, my mom and I spent an awesome summer in Spain. My Spanish classes proved useful. I really learned Spanish, which helped later with job and school opportunities. My point is, it was a life changing experience that really shaped who I am.
So I've been wondering....how could I give my kids the same opportunity?
I don't exactly live in an international hub. But recently I happened to reconnect (yes, Facebook has benefits) with an old friend from Study Abroad days who of all things is now an International Coordinator. That means she works hard to make exchange students' dreams come true by finding families to host them for a school year in America. Would I too want to join her non-profit foundation, making lifetime friends from all over the world???! Heck yeah! Sign me up pronto!
That is how it all started. As an International Coordinator, I now spend a lot of time sharing my passion for hosting international exchange students! It is quite the roller coaster of thrills from the joy of hearing the word "YES, we would love to host a student" and matching them up with the cutest kid ever from to the lows of finding out that family couldn't pass the background criminal history check (Yep, true story) and then starting all over again! Best job ever.
I think of it as giving birth to a teenager. It's about as much work, but when you do find the perfect family and the perfect student? The joy makes it all worth it.
These teens are top notch kids.
Take Alessandro from Italy, for example. This kid is a great soccer player and would love to cook Italian food for your family. Want to host him and make his dreams come true? Give me a call! I can totally arrange that.
The next time you see me I may just be hangin' with my muchachas doing quintessential American activities like sipping Root Beer at the local greasy spoon or picking out a dress for Prom. Just making some dreams come true. That's my new job.