Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pi Day!

We celebrated Pi day (as in 3.14 pi, not pie) with fresh homemade pumpkin pie and ice cream for desert. I love it when we have pie with our students because it's such a cliche American thing. I think we under appreciated pie before this.

Friday, March 9, 2012

someone new, someone borrowed, someone blue?

Last night I was thinking about all of my host families, our current Korean daughter, our French and Spanish daughters, our kids with Aspergers, all of the challenges that come with hosting and supervising and truth be told, I was becoming a little bit overwhelmed.

Then it hit me.

How does one "learn" to live successfully with a roommate? To be an adult at work with others? To be married? To be a problem solver outside of one's family?

I was thinking back on my younger days there was family which had one big family dynamic for 18 years, everyone knew how the family worked and then BAM...there were college roommates...a completely different scenario. My roommates spoke a different family language than I did, one was disgustingly messy, one was OCD neat freak, the messy one loved to cook dinner every night and the OCD one loved to complain about the mess. I don't know where I fit in cause I'm just me. None of us knew how to manage money or pay bills, how to divide the food costs of what we ate together, or anything remotely business like. You did NOT speak to one during one week out of the month or you'd get your head bitten off by a raging lunatic. When one had her boyfriend over very late every night and it really bothered me I just sat in my bed reading while they sat in theirs. I didn't say anything because I had no idea how to handle it. I didn't want to be rude to someone not in my family. Now if that had happened in my family I would have run over and sat on them all and started bouncing and telling embarrassing little kid stories, then run up to tell on them, "DAD, Adam has a GIRL here!" I didn't have an in between, didn't know how to interact family style with someone that wasn't raised with me, with the same family cultures and customs, with the same ideals.

I mentally froze. I don't want to try to communicate. It's not worth it. This person is not my family. I don't want to be rude. You have to be polite and not say anything. That's it, communication over.

This is where I am starting to see something that I have never thought of before. The good times with our students are amazing and the challenging parts, well, they are challenging. But now I understand that they are there for a reason. My kids are learning how to communicate with someone who was not raised as a family member but is trying to become one, they have different cultures, ideals, and methods of communication. What I would view as "proper" respect is different in each country and in each family. One student retreats to their room when finding they've done something wrong, one rushes to fix things and try to make it right, one gets frustrated and says so right then and there.

Learning to communicate and problem solve with different new family members is giving my kids a gift that doesn't generally come until college or marriage.

If I could describe the look of shock and horror the first time our new "big" sister told her "little" sister in typical foreign blunt style that she needed to hurry because she was always, I'll remember that look forever. Anger, sadness, embarrassment, frustration and then looking to me for help. I stayed silent and let little sister think about it for a while, little sister got over it and started to be a little faster. Life lesson learned. Thanks big sister.

The time one got into the shower and the other got up late? Well, we won't go into that but there were communication lessons learned.

An exchange student is meant to be a real part of the family, they do what the family does and they assimilate into the families habits and customs but they also bring their own habits and customs and ways of dealing with problems to the mix. They have to learn how to show respect in our family and we have to learn how to show them respect and show them that we're understanding what they're saying...even when we don't really understand. An exchange student isn't always happy and a host family isn't always happy, most certainly neither are always perfect.

Hosting=many awkward pauses as we learn to live with a new family member and they learn to live with us, as we think of how to best communicate with the "new sister".

I am so happy that we have taken this challenge and our family has had the blessings of learning to work with three individually unique new family members and big sisters. I hope that these lessons will follow my kids and my new kids through college, work and marriage and anywhere they have to learn to communicate with someone who thinks differently than they do.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's time to approve families for the 2012-2013 students!

I'm looking through applications and approving host families for the 2012-2013 school year.

If you would like to volunteer your home and family to host an exchange student now is the time to start. We need hosts as 6 week welcome families and also hosts for the school year. It's an amazing experience for people of any age or family style. Yes, you do get to choose the student who fits your family the best. We have a full profile of each student and you may see them after you are approved to host. It is one of the most fulfilling volunteer experiences you will ever have. Bring the world to your home and gain a new family member from across the world.

Hosts provide meals, a bedroom that may be shared with a sibling close in age and loving guidance. Students will have their own spending money for personal needs, admissions for outings, etc. They also have good insurance in the USA. They live as part of your family and will do the same things that you do.

You can start by calling, emailing or filling out an application here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

mmmm, American cheese in a can

Although I hadn't had cheese in a can for many years we had to buy some for this trip because I had just read through an application from a German boy who said he had many questions for his host family including, why do Americans eat cheese from a can? Ha ha ha ha ha! I figured if we had that reputation we had to either show her why we ate it or disprove the theory. See loved it. I'm looking forward to taking the other students on a Disneyland trip where we can all eat cheese in a can.

See had her first "Idaho potato" at the Ballroom nationals.

Fiddler on the Roof

See got to meet "The Fiddler". We were so excited to see The Fiddler on the Roof at Ogden High School and it starred our very own Jeremiah Robinson. It was an amazing play and absolutely enjoyed it. I have to say that it was one of the best high school plays I have seen and the newly remodeled theater was absolute luxury.