International Hosting: A Learning Experience for the Whole Family

Sindy and Anna

Sindy and Anna

At this time of year, secondary students are making their course selections for the 2013-2014 school year.  As I recently worked with our international students to choose classes for their junior year, I was struck by the variety of electives and after-school activities provided for our students. Through athletics, fine arts, science and other programs our students can find places to connect, learn, and grow. This semester, several of our school families have embarked on a new learning adventure: hosting an international student in their home. These families have opened their homes to international students for one or more semesters.

What is it like to have an international student live with you?  One of our 6th graders, Anna, shared her thoughts on hosting:

Sindy is spending the next two years living (for the school year) with my grandmother, and I couldn't be happier about it. I was a little worried before she got here because I had never known someone from China, but now that I know her, I realize there was nothing to be frightened of. I have six cousins (and one coming!) under the age of five, who my grandmother babysits frequently. They all love Sindy and have accepted her without hesitation. She is just another member of the family. We all celebrated Chinese New Year, along with some of Sindy's friends from school. We had delicious traditional Chinese food and some great time with family.  Hosting an international student is both fun and educational. I have learned more about China in the last few months than any other time.

As Anna and her family have experienced Chinese food and holidays with Sindy, they have also learned more about how someone from China views the world. Hosting can be an incredible opportunity to learn how others view family life, friendship, education, and God.  In return, the host family can share their beliefs and values with the student who lives in their home.  The opportunities for growth are endless!

Photo: Sixth grader Anna Canady (middle in white skirt) welcomes Sindy to the United States. Kala Walls, International Program Student Coordinator, is on the far right.  

Kala Walls serves as the coordinator of the International Student Program. If you have questions about the program or are interested in hosting an international student, you can contact Kala at or 863-688-2771. 

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Published on by Kala Walls.