This month, we spoke with the Johnson Family in New Jersey. The Johnsons are hosting their first international student, Minghan, from China.
"The past few months have brought much fun and fellowship with the addition of Minghan, our host son from China. Since he arrived in late August, life at the Johnson household has been a whirlwind of activities.
Not one to let grass grow under his feet, Minghan jumped right into our family life and accompanied us to Philadelphia as we attended a cousin's baptism. Then, it was time for the much fun and always anticipated inaugural Homecoming dance soon to be followed by his first trick-or-treat. After going around the neighborhood with his host-sister, he was such a pro he invited some friends and went out again!
After that, was another family celebration: a wedding at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Freezing temperatures bothered neither the bride nor Minghan as they both celebrated the joyous occasion in the beautiful Retro Stadium.
Soon after, Minghan put his healthy appetite to the test and experienced his first Thanksgiving dinner. As the turkey was settling, it was time to check out the Christmas Village to trim the tree and deck the halls. Black Friday, Minghan braved the crowds in the brick-n-mortars, but not too packed to be laden down with packages! Yet, he was still energetic enough to gather with us in our town center to see Santa descend from the town hall by way of a fire truck ladder! But, that is not all. Entangled in lights, hot chocolate, holiday movies galore, Advent celebrations, Christmas concerts, and church, Minghan has truly embraced the spirit of Christmas and the joy of life in America."
Thanks Johnson Family and Minghan for sharing your #CIEEBestYearEver story!
The Nagy family lives in fabulous Los Angeles in a lovely neighborhood bordering the mountains of southern California.
Over the years host parents Dan and Jeannie Nagy have hosted three international students attending the LA Unified School District. Their previous students have been from Germany, Thailand, and Egypt.
Mr. and Mrs. Nagy share their hobbies with their students – Jeannie like sports, particularly baseball and ice skating, while Dan loves music and cars. In past years the Nagys have loved sharing their holidays with their students, like cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and spending Christmas with their extended family.
Their area of Los Angeles is quiet and tree-lined, but within driving distance of all the great features the city has to offer – the beach, hiking trails, and the bright lights of Hollywood.
As a part of Host Family Appreciation Week at CIEE, we asked our host families to share their stories hosting international students, and how it has impacted their lives.
The Elozory family lives in Tampa, FL and is made up of host mom Bonnie, host dad Daniel, their teenage daughter Diana, and service dog. They are a first time host family and hosting Natalie from Germany this year.
The Elozory family told us:
“I love being a host mom. It gives me the chance to share our lives with another kid. We get to see the world and especially America through fresh new eyes. Our exchange student feels like an important and complete part of our family. We've had so much fun showing her America. It's made us get out and enjoy the gifts of our own great country. Getting to know all of the other exchange students in our area has also been such a rich experience for us. We find the kids to be very energetic, thoughtful, and inquisitive people. They are the doers of the world. They've left the comfort of home to venture out and meet and live with foreigners. I find them brave and interesting. They have expanded our view of the world.
Seeing our exchange student blossom and grow has been exciting. She's gotten involved in sports, the choir, and many things our own kids didn't do. We get to see her preform in shows and compete in events. It broadens our life experiences. We've met so many people because of her. Sharing your life with another person expands your understanding of the world. It allows one to see things new and afresh.
My daughter plans to travel to her student's home this summer. We are so excited for her to see the larger world. Certainly the exchange student program fosters a universal dedication to peace through knowledge and understanding of each other. We learn how we are different and also alike. It's a wonderful lesson for young people to learn. ”
To see more stories from Host Family Appreciation Week, visit our Host Family News blog.
The Idler family in Rockaway, New Jersey is excited to host another student next year! The Idlers first hosted a student attending Morris Catholic High School with CIEE in 2015-2016 and are looking to repeat the process.
Parents Jacquie and Steve have busy careers but make time to travel and spend time with their three grown children, Johnathan, Danielle, and Gregory. Their previous exchange student played on Morris Catholic’s basketball team and they loved cheering him on.
The Idler’s hometown is only a short train ride away from New York City which provides plenty of exciting day trip opportunities.
Hello from the Birkel family in Falmouth, Maine!
Host mom Michelle, and host dad Paul have two daughters and live in a beautiful home on the Maine coast, right down the road from the CIEE office in Portland!
Michelle and Paul foster a home environment of independence, respect and personal responsibility and it is obvious in the way their close-knit family interacts and gets along. They spend their free time as a family going to athletic events that the girls are participating in (basketball this season), engaging in outdoor activities, like walking the family dog, or going hiking.
If the weather is bad, the family will stay inside. By turning their basement into a game room, complete with a pool table, foosball table and a ping pong table, and a large room on the second floor turned into a gym, there is no need to leave on a rainy day!
The Birkels are excited to welcome an international student into their family this year, and share all that Falmouth and hospitable Maine culture has to offer!
The Duncan family of Alma, Arkansas is excited to host a CIEE student this year! This young and active family is looking forward to incorporating an exchange student into their lives.
The host father, Connor, enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and fishing. As a family they often travel, visit amusement parks, and go skiing. Rubi, the host mother, is a fan of cooking and watching movies. A student placed here would also gain a new little brother! The family’s son Christian will be three this summer.
The Duncans have met other international students in their community and are eager to learn about different cultures and form relationships with young people from around the world.
Hear what other families have to say about the hosting experience, and why bringing students to the U.S. is so important to them.
The Daley family resides in Hopkinton, MA, a quintessential New England town roughly 30 miles west of Boston. They have hosted students from Brazil, China, Norway, Finland, Germany, and Italy. This year they hope to host a boy and a girl in their home. Any student would be lucky to be placed with this outstanding family!
John (Dad) is a gentle giant with a huge personality. Students love him and it is easy to see why. He interacts and engages with teens on their level. John is known to play popular card games such as Magic and Pokemon, or the family’s favorite board game, Settlers of Catan. He has also coached both boys and girls lacrosse teams.
Debra (Mom) is an active member of the community and is involved in many book clubs. She teaches a financial literacy course and hosts events like “healthy lunch club” with other mothers in town while the kids are at school. Debra is approachable and kind and has enthusiastically opened her home to students for six years.
Bret (Son) will be a junior at Hopkinton High School for the 2017-18 school year. He is involved in high school cross country and the entrepreneur club. He plays basketball with the town recreational team. On days off from school, Bret enjoys playing video games. His favorite classes in school are math and science.