Monday, March 28, 2011

Franzi's violin

Franzi's performance
Franzi from Germany playing the violin

Wow, I just have to share this link from Franzi who is staying in Montana for her exchange. Thanks Doug for sharing this video of your beautiful exchange student. What a gift she has and she obviously has put so much time and effort into her violin playing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

JoAnn's full circle experience, generations of hosting.

My good friend JoAnn was one of the first people I knew who actually went out on foreign exchange and one of our first inspirations for our adventure. She was on a scholarship and talked a lot about her experience. When she told me that her host sister's daughter was going to live with them I was thrilled to see her experience come full circle. I know how much she loved her host families and seeing that a generation later they are still close is a powerful thing.

JoAnn's story follows...

As a Junior in High School, I had the amazing experience of being able to be a foreign exchange student. I lived in Brazil for 11 1/2 months. Although exchange students who come to the U.S. speak great English, when I arrived in Brazil, I spoke almost no Portuguese. I was blessed with 2 different host families who helped me learn the language, the culture and all about myself.

I lived with my first host family for 3 months. Our kitchen was like a mural of pictures cut out from magazines. Each picture had the word in English and in Portuguese. The sweet Kirsten family took me in to their family and into their hearts. They taught me important things like how many times to kiss a person on the cheek and how to address older people. My host brothers played the guitar while we sang together for hours at a time, and my host parents helped me through the transition of homesickness. I love this family and am still able to converse with many of them on Facebook. What a blessing they were and are to me.

The rest of my stay was with the Silva family. At this point, I was proficient in the language. I had so many deep conversations with each of my family members. My host sister, Luiza became my best friend. My host brothers helped me with everything from homework to teaching me how to dance the samba so I would be ready for Carnival. My dearest memories are of hour long conversations with my host mom. I admire her so very much. I love the Silva family. We were able to travel and see some of the sights as well. I loved this, but most of all I loved my family and dear friends.
I have not lost contact with my host families. After all these years, my dear host family is still truly my family. I was able to visit with most of the Kirsten family here in the U.S. Also, each of my brothers and my sister from the Silva family has come to visit me at least once.
Last winter, we had an amazing experience. My host sister, Luiza, her husband and her daughter came to visit. Luiza and I loved each other as teenage sisters and friends, but to know each other as adults has meant even more. Luiza was able to leave her daughter to stay with my family for a 3 month exchange. Her sweet daughter, Adelle, was 15. She was the exact age I was when I got to Brazil. We loved having Adelle as part of our family. What a blessing she was and always will be to us. We love her very much. Having Adelle live with my family brought my whole exchange student experience full circle.

Being an exchange student, or hosting an exchange student is a life changing experience. It is a lasting relationship. For me, this relationship in now in the second generation, and I know it will continue on.

Inspired Conversations with Angel and Shantel

I have to thank Shantel McBride and Angel Shannon on AM 630 K-TALK for helping me pull some things together in my mind. I listened to them for the first time today on Inspired Conversations and yes, it was a truly inspiring conversation. They said quite a few things that hit close to my heart.

In the beginning of the program they said that there are many reasons for people coming into our lives but they are always there for a reason. It reminded me of Luyao's letter to her potential host family. She says, "Do you know, Chinese people believe in something called 'Yuan'. It is like the fate that decides who you will meet and where you will go. All I expect now is that the Yuan can connect us together. I believe we will give an unforgettable time in our life." Luyao's letter made an impression on me because of many reasons.

When we first started this grand adventure it was just a way to get my daughter a discount so she could go to France on exchange, a goal that she's had for years. My friend and neighbor knew how much I had been researching companies, their policies and ideals so that she could have a safe experience there. She asked if I would like to help as a local coordinator. I had no idea how much my life would change by knowing each one of these amazing students and families who have come into my life.

We started with a very closed world of our family and neighborhood friends and books upon books upon books of "culture". I would initially say that we "ended with" but, there isn't an end to this story. We progressed to knowing such rich cultures and such a group of peoples who are completely different from our own and have so much to offer in so many ways. These students are the future generation of leaders. They share with us their lives and traditions and we share ours. The hosts that I have met have all been such great people and I feel blessed to have met them. We come from so many different walks of life, different faiths, different neighborhoods, different circles of friends. Yet, we all want to share our culture and receive a foreign exchange student into our homes. This is going to be such an astounding year full of experiences. As I told my new friend and host mom Julie, two people came together and worlds collided to create a family.

When we chose our new daughter, Alda, we knew that she needed to come into our lives for a reason. Maybe it's as simple as her teaching us to play the accordion and for my daughter to be a little sister for the first time in her life. But, I have a feeling that there will be so much more to our story. Alda, we are so excited for you to get here and share your life with us for the school year. I know that it won't end there and now, it is so much more than a way to get Alyssa to France. In fact, our daughter we chose isn't even from France, she is from Spain. Here is the really funny part though, All of my children's names start with A's. When we found out that the girl we chose was named Alda we all had to laugh. She fits in perfectly doesn't she?

Another concept that Angel and Shantel conversed about was fear. Fear was definitely prevalent in my mind when we started this adventure. We fear the things we don't know. And I certainly do not know the other side of the world and wouldn't send my child there. This is where my research started. I wanted to really get to know a family who I could trust with my daughter on the other side of the world. Of course, we have to use our best judgement but that is very different from simply fearing what we don't know. Angel and Shantel suggested doing something you fear every day. Our fears are simply stories that we are telling ourselves. Why live in a world of made up scary stories? My friend "gave me a what for", which is really cowboy language for telling me off. I was so afraid of the horse that I was riding that I was creating these terrible pictures in my mind of being bucked right off and trampled, yet the horse was very well behaved. She said, "Danika, you are making up a story in your head and it just isn't true. You need to be in reality and see that you are on a great horse who is carrying you right now. He is doing what he is supposed to be doing. Don't live in fear by making up pretend stories."

Thanks Angel and Shantel for a great program! I am looking forward to listening every Sunday.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Egg Foo Yung

mmmm this was super yummy! I think that I chopped the veggies a little too big though, next time I'll shred them. Everyone loved it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spatzel recipe from Michelle, exchanging from Germany

mmmmm, spatzel is so easy to make and super yummy. If you can't find a spatzel ricer you can use a large colander and press the dough through in small sections. We found one at the local kitchen store for $5. It's much easier than rolling pasta. I hope you enjoy!

2 ½ Cups plain (all-purpose) flour
2 medium eggs
½ teaspoon salt
About 5 tablespoons water
13 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
Preparation (Serves 4 persons, takes about 35 minutes):
Sieve the flour into a bowl. Add the eggs, salt and 5 tablespoons water. Knead all the ingredients together using a hand-held mixer with a kneading attachment or wooden spoon, making sure that there are no lumps. Continue kneading until the dough begins to form air bubbles.
Bring 13 cups water to the boil and add salt. Push the dough trough a spätzle ricer or spätzle press into the boiling water and poach for 3-5 minutes; the spätzle are done when they float to the surface.
Remove the spätzle from the water using a skimming ladle, transfer to a sieve or colander, rinse under cold water and drain. Brown the butter in pan and toss the spätzle in it.
Variation 1:
To make spätze coated with breadcrumbs, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pan, stir in 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and pour over the spätzle.
Variation 2:
To make spätzle with fried onions, peel 3 onions, cut into rings, brown in melted butter or margarine and pour over the spätzle just before serving.
Variation 3:
To make cheese spätzle, make the spätzle as described above but using 14oz wheat flour, 4 medium eggs, 1 level teaspoon salt and grated Emmental cheese in layers in a greased gratin dish (the top layer should be cheese). Put the dish in the preheated oven (top and bottom heat) at a temperature of about 200°C/400°F, fan oven about 180°C/350°F, gas mark 6 and bake the cheese spätzle for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese spätzle with fried onion rings (made from 4 onions) and serve with a mixed salad as a main dish.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Update on open cities for exchange

Latest update, we still need host families in Utah at most of the high schools. At this time we only have one full school, Weber High. There are also a few students who can attend certain private schools. Please email for more information about hosting.

Sugarhouse Journal article

Click here to read the great article from Rebecca at the Sugar House Journal.

We're in the newspaper! Thanks Rebecca for such a great article.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Learning the Lingo

I just found a fun, new, and free (from the library) language course. Check with your online library to see if they have Mango.
This is the link to the Davis county, UT library. They have Spanish, French, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, German, Mandarin Chinese, Greek, Italian, and Russian. I know what I'll be doing in my free time. What should I learn first?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pad Thai recipe from Jongchaya

In honor of the amazing batch of Thai students who just sent in their applications...Pad Thai! Please let me know if you want more information about our Thai kids. They will be coming August 2011 but we need to match them with families and get them enrolled now. They are amazing kids!

Classic Pad-Thai
A Word from Our Chef: The dish named Pad-Thai is the number one popular dish that the Americans most like. I love Pad-Thai. So does my host mother. So we made up to make Pad-Thai. My host mother and I helped together making Pad-Thai. Both of us very enjoyed cooking. My host mother love cooking Thai food. She can cook another kind of Thai food, such as, chicken with ginger, fried rice, etc. After we had done our cooking it was time to eat! We were very happy about "our Pad-Thai". It was very tasty for us. And we all hope that we would cook another Thai food soon :) Thai food is the best. We love it: D

Ingredients (3 servings):
1 tblsp oil
1 tsp lemon Juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tblsp ketchup
Pepper, chili paste to taste
Green onion
1 egg
¼ lb chicken
1 packet of Pad Thai noodles
Put all together in a pan and heat.

Take your daughter to work!

Julie just sent me this too. She was able to take Hanxi to work at the bakery and I hear they had a ton of fun. Hanxi was exited that Julie was a baker because her home in China did not have an oven. :.) What a great "take your daughter to work" day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Letter from an amazing host mom

Oh, I cried when I read this Julie. You are such a great mom. Thanks for sending me this note. I still remember this photo from your first day with Hanxi. Worlds collided and created sparks!


I love my beautiful Chinese daughter Hanxi.
I wanted to be a host parent so I could share our amazing American culture with kids from around the world. Little did I know how much I would learn in such a short time.
This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and look forward to many more years as my family grows in diversity and love!
Thank you CIEE for this incredible opportunity!

Julie Bradford

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shopping and adventures!

What a fun day shopping! The girls were so excited to start looking for prom dresses so we went to Romance Bridal. They always have the best dresses and great sales.
Next, we went to a local Thai store to explore. We found out that Nadia had never had a fortune cookie...
And of course you can't have a shopping adventure without visiting the D.I., the local thrift score. You can't beat a wedding dress, leather jacket, and sneakers!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gino's painting

What talent! Gino donated this painting to his high school. And, of course, his host mother cried as he made his presentation.

Monday, March 7, 2011

From a host family and their son

Wow, I really loved this host family's story. This is why we are hosting!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Activity at Thanksgiving Point

We had fun interviewing a great new family who adopted 4 kids from China and would like to host so her kids can learn about their heritage. It was a little drive for us so we decided to make a fun day of it and visit Thanksgiving Point. Of course, we picked up Hanxi, our exchange neighbor and friend. Her favorite animals were the turkeys. The white peacock was a favorite too, so beautiful. Hanxi thought that American Fork and Spanish Fork were funny names so we had a word lesson of the day of the different meanings of Fork. Now every time I hear the names of those cities I picture a fork painted like a flag. :.) She taught us the names of the farm animals in Chinese. It's amazing how quickly my kids picked them up. Now at home they refer to our animals by their Chinese names.

Alyssa and Hanxi with the cow that thought it was a kept rubbing up for petting and then licked us.

This was the beautiful white peacock.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I want to take all of these kids home with me!

I just have to say today that I want to take all of these kids home with me! It's been an amazing experience working with new host families and personally matching students with them. Each family has a unique aspect that makes them who they are. To find a student who will do well in their home can be a challenge. When you find the right just know.

Here are a couple of kids who are looking for homes here...

Christian students from South Korea looking to live in Christian homes

A boy from Germany who says he would be the "happiest exchange student in the world if I could golf in America."

A girl from Germany who wants to be a vet and loves to ride horses

A student from China who plays the violin and piano, 4.0