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CHI Host Mom Visits Exchange Student in Slovakia

Seven years after hosting Martin, an Academic Year Program student from Slovakia, CHI host mom Rochelle reconnected with him by taking a trip to visit him and his family.  Rochelle wanted to document her experience, so she started writing the wonderful letter below from the plane on her way home, while sitting beside her next AYP student, Jacob from Germany.

It is thanks to the dedication and caring of people like Rochelle that CHI is able to help people make these important cultural connections.  Thanks Rochelle, Martin, Jacob, and all the other host families and program participants who constantly remind us why we do what we do.

After a little over 7 years I am returning from visiting Martin and his family in Slovakia! What a life-changing experience! I have learned so much from this visit! But first and foremost I now have a family there. They have touched my heart in a way I have never dreamed! I suspect they feel the same way. Despite language and cultural differences we were able to communicate, share, laugh and cry together. I can hardly find the words to tell you how moved I am from these past 3 and a half weeks.

I visited many cities and countries during this trip but the best moments were spent picking tomatoes in the garden, helping to hang the laundry on the line, learning to make halusky, drinking home-made wine and talking with Martin’s mom, dad and Babka (grandma) on the back patio until 1 in the morning in a small Slovak village. Yet only 1 of them spoke very limited English. Oh! And there was the last day when I spent the afternoon with Babka (89 yrs old) looking at very old family pictures and her just talking away in Slovak and I had very little clue what she was saying! (Although I did pick up a few words!)

And that isn’t counting all the lessons learned about Europe and her people! I have a whole new appreciation for the exchange students and their struggles when they come here.

I am now beginning to host our 8th student who is sitting next to me. I thought I was pretty well versed in hosting but I must admit that this experience has taken me (us) to the next level. There just aren’t enough words to tell you how grateful and appreciative I am to CHI for changing our lives. And that is NO EXAGGERATION! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Love, Rochelle

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