French Exchange Experience - Host Parent Perspective

Jennifer Furie
Last spring, our family hosted an exchange student from Tours, France for 3 months.  It was our first time hosting a student, and friends thought we were taking a big risk agreeing to host for so long.  However, we thought that it would be an educational and fun experience for our family, and it was indeed.
Sara Halimi came to us at the tender age of 12 in order to become more proficient at English.  She fit into our family very well. She shared a room with our 12 year old, Zoey, and they quickly became friends.  Sara was very easy to like. She was quick to smile and laugh at our jokes, and she often made us laugh too.  She was very appreciative of things we did for her and she was quick to offer to help with chores. She even made a chore chart for our family during one of our family meetings, and it still hangs in our kitchen.

Sara was a wonderful “sister” to my girls, happily coming to watch their softball games and hockey games.  She would cheer for them and play with our dog on the sidelines. 

When Sara said that she missed walking to and from school, we decided to begin an exercise program. Sara and my youngest daughter, Alyssa, and I began getting up extra early to run before school.  Sara’s English was very good when she came to us, and we all enjoyed helping her become even more fluent.  I also enjoyed practicing my French with Sara.  She would invariably laugh at my pronunciation, but she was happy to help me. 

I always think of Sara when I hear the song, “Rude,” as that was her favorite, and she always asked me to play it on our drive to school.  She also had a great way of responding anytime I suggested she try something new - “why not?”  she would say with a smile. With this attitude, she tried lots of new foods and new activities.  It is an attitude I hope my kids will embrace.

And now, Sara and her family have invited Zoey to come stay with them in France over the winter holidays.  I am so excited that they will get to continue to grow their friendship and that Zoey will get to see what it is like to be the guest this time.  It will be an experience she will never forget, just like hosting Sara is an experience our family will always treasure. 
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Southern Pines, NC 28387

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