When I first hosted my first student, Francesco from Italy, I was concerned. I was a second family for him through no fault of his own (the previous host family was having medical issues). I was concerned that because I was a single woman, would I be able to do this? I have never had any children although I had 2 nieces and a nephew. After a bit of a difficult start due to me never having any children and being nervous about being a parent, I loved it. I was hooked. It was such a treat to see Massachusetts from someone else’s eyes. The wonder of visiting places that I had seen before but through his eyes was amazing. It may be just going for a drive down Cape Cod, walking around Boston for an afternoon or actually looking at a historical site. He also did explore without me. The second half of the year, he cooked all the time! Oh, my gosh, I totally enjoyed the Italian food. He was my first international “son” and is part of my family now.
I genuinely believe that international exchange is crucial to our world and to our individual lives. It gives us perspective that not only helps us to understand our world and the needs and hopes of others, but to see ourselves differently. I have been working with CHI for the past 7 years to help both students and families live meaningful experiences through exchange. I feel so fortunate to have met and gotten to know so many amazing and generous families, many of whom I now count as friends. I keep in touch with students all over the world who carry a piece of New England in their hearts as a result of their year here in the US. I think of all of these amazing individuals as part of a growing world family.