• Issue 4

This is the story of the Elicker family, how they came to host a student and what they’ve gained from the experience.

How did you hear about the home stay program and what made you decide to participate?
We heard about the Home Stay program through our friends, the Feil family, who also hosted a student. We decided to become part of the program because we wanted the chance to experience other cultures without the expense of traveling. Our hope was to learn about different lifestyles, foods and beliefs while sharing our own. We saw this experience as an opportunity to grow culturally while giving our children a glance into another society.

What was it like meeting your home stay student for the first time?
When Pang arrived, I knew right away she was a perfect fit. She was very shy and soft spoken. Her words were spoken with kindness and respect. Pang made herself right at home and was eager to meet everyone.

I will never forget the first time I met our former student, Ben Xu. It really was like a scene from the Hallmark Channel. His uncle drove him to our house. When Ben got out of the car, he ran down the driveway, arms open wide, asking for a hug from his new host mom. At that moment, I saw his soul through his smile and embrace.

Our experience as a host family has been very rewarding. We have been matched with great families/students.

What are some of your favorite memories from your experience?
Teaching Pang how to cook and prepare meals has created many of my favorite memories so far. She loves to be involved in both the meal preparation and cleanup process. When Pang first arrived at our house, she was reserved and timid when it came to our dog, Cider, who is a 10-year-old petite golden retriever. Pang and Cider are now pals. It warms my heart to see Cider come out of Pang’s room and the time she makes to take him for a walk.

What advice would you give to other families who are interested in this program?
I think the most important advice is to open your home and heart. For us, being a home stay family has been life changing. It has opened our world to other cultures.

When a student graduates and leaves our home, a void takes its place. That emptiness is then replaced with joy and love when that same student posts a picture of the family dog on Instagram for National Pet Day or when they ask to come home from college to celebrate Christmas with their American family.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a home stay family, please visit our website www.kennedyhs.org/int or contact Ms. In Vilai at Housing@kennedyhs.org or 206.957.9628.

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