Talk about a staycation. We are about to embark on a huge adventure without having to leave home: we’ve applied to host a foreign exchange student through AFS for the upcoming schoolyear, a girl from France. And I must say that even if we don’t get approved, just the process of applying has been worthwhile. I mean, how often do you get the opportunity to really take stock of your family, your home, and your community, all at the same time?
The application was thought-provoking, asking things like “What are your family values? What’s a typical weekday/weekend like in your family? What common interests do family members share? What’s your community like– what cultural enrichment opportunities are offered?” You’re also asked to describe each family member, your house, your mealtime routine, your communication style, and many other things…when I was finished with my honest assessment, I looked it over and felt good– we’re not so dysfunctional after all. Our community really is nice, and so is our home. And then I got to read what others wrote about us, because references have to be provided, and that made me feel good, too. So at the very least, the process has given me a great set of documents that I can look at whenever I need a boost.
But I hope our AFS experience doesn’t end there. I really want to share our home and family and culture with someone from another country. I want us to be enriched as she shares her culture with us. And, I’ve always dreamed of being “mom” to more than two children (since I grew up like an only child, with siblings at least 10 years older than me, and all my favorite TV shows featured large families.) If we host an exchange student, we won’t exactly be The Waltons, but we will be half the Bradys J.
I realize that exchange programs aren’t all rosy and that some families do end up with a “Donger” passed out in their front yard, a la the movie “Sixteen Candles”. But I also know enough people who’ve been involved with AFS, as a host and as an exchange student, to know the likelihood for a positive experience is high.
Tonight, a local AFS volunteer will conduct a “home visit” to check out our surroundings and our family. Let’s hope we look as good in person as we do on paper…