Our family has been hosting exchange students for about nine years now. My husband and I started hosting summer groups back when we were first married. We had so much fun with them! When we bought our home in 1999 we began to host long term exchange students, students who were here for 9 months to a year or more. It has been such a rewarding experience, especially for our 6 year-old son.
We enjoy having students stay in our home for many reasons. Number one, it's great fun for our son, who is an only child and quite social. We usually have students from Japan, so since his father is from Japan it gives my son a chance to interact with someone from that culture. Secondly, we just enjoy having another person in our home to interact with and share experiences. We tend to be homebodies, so having a student with us inspires us as a family to go out and do more things together, such as day trips, festivals and other activities. Finally, we treasure the friendship that endures long after the student has returned to Japan. We have had them come back later to visit us and stay in our home; we have also gone to Japan to visit them.
One of our students actually got married eventually and stayed in Seattle, so we get to see her every once in a while. She had stayed with us while I was pregnant with our son. She was very friendly and talkative, and always kept me company. We would cook meals together, do crafts, wash dishes together and chat. The day she moved out it broke my heart because I just knew that I would miss her so much. So you know how happy I was when she chose to stay in Seattle.
Our new student is named Mina. I just picked her up from the airport yesterday morning. She is a sweet, friendly girl who wants to study film making. She's into skulls, from what I can tell; when she came yesterday she was wearing a pink t-shirt with a fuzzy skull on it, some suede boots with pink skulls, and a metallic pink skull wallet. She brought my son a happi coat as a present, he is wearing it in the picture. Hopefully she will like living in our home with us, as we already like her very much.