Congratulations to our Student of the Week – Pedro from Brazil!
CETUSA is dedicated to the mission of "reaching out to encourage a lifelong journey of global peace and understanding." We support this mission through the implementation of exchange programs for high school students - both American and international - and trainee and internship programs for university students/young professionals. This blog space is meant to continue the conversation on the value of education through experience - more specifically the experience of study abroad. There will be guest blogs here as well as announcements of resources for students, parents and teachers to learn more about study abroad and the global perspective.
Many of our host families look for a student from a country where their ancestors came from, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that; they feel a strong connection with their new son or daughter due to familiarity with their culture and simply knowing that the blood ties to that particular country are prevalent. Sometimes, however, the reason for hosting a child from a certain country can be meaningful in a different way. Ray and Renita Williamson from Wisconsin are hosting Jaeuk, a boy from South Korea. They wouldn’t really consider a student from any other country because 30 years ago, this childless couple explored adopting an infant, and before they knew it, they were welcoming their South Korean baby boy, Brandon, at the airport and bringing him home to raise.
Brandon is now an adult who still lives near Mom and Dad. He’s married with two children of his own. The Williamsons had never thought of hosting a student until their coordinator asked them if they’d like to see a very special South Korean boy’s profile and letter to the family. The letter moved them to consider taking Jaeuk into their home this year, and they haven’t looked back. Jaeuk instantly became their son, and the thought of sending him back home in June almost brings Renita to tears. She still recalls the first time she got to talk to Jaeuk before he came to the U.S. She was beyond excited, and Jaeuk was ecstatic to hear that she and Ray already had a Korean son.
Brandon has been able to ask Jaeuk all about his home country, and the family wants to visit Jaeuk in South Korea in the future. This placement has been joyous in many ways–it’s not only given the Williamsons a new son, but it’s also helped their older son establish a deeper connection to the Korean culture and the country where he was born!
“This year so far has been absolutely amazing. I’ve been greeted with open arms into the most loving family. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and all the things I’ve experienced – from football games, to hunting, to school activities and to gaining a new family.
Grabbing an opportunity like this is the best thing I’ve ever done. Wyoming has been great and filled with completely new experiences for me. I’ve gained great friends and memories for life.” – Ida
“We feel blessed beyond words having Ida as part of our family! Our lives are so much richer! Ida has fit in from day one, always full of life and laughter. She’s never backed down from anything we have asked of her, and dove right into things we never expected her to do.
Our girls have gained a new sister, and she will forever be ‘one of our kids’! She was on the volleyball team, basketball team and plans on playing soccer here soon; all of which she has never done, but excelled in! She is also on the Yearbook Staff and has been a great student. We love her like one of our own, and there will definitely be a void in our home when she returns to Denmark.” – Host Family
“We are so blessed to have Katja as a member of our family this year! By the time her program is over, it will be 10 months of memories to have for the rest of our life! It saddens me that some people never reach out to experience this life changing opportunity – they truly miss out! Katja is such a delight and although her parents deserve much credit for raising an awesome daughter, she will forever be our Danish daughter also. One of the most precious moments we shared with Katja was in December. She sang ‘Silent Night’ in Danish at our church. It was absolutely beautiful, everyone was so blessed, and I was so proud of her!” –Kelley, Oklahoma
“Louise won the hearts of her host family the moment she stepped off the plane and handed her four young new siblings (ages 10, 8, 5 and 2.5) cool LEGO toys from Denmark. Some exchange students would be put off by so many youngsters in the house, but not Louise. She doesn’t just tolerate the children, she loves them and plays with them. She has an especially close relationship with Nolan, age 5. Louise also gets along great with her host mom, Karli, who is fun and active and loves theater, just like Louise. They have a close bond and recently had a fun grown-up girls’ manicure date.
Host dad Nick was wondering how to develop a closer relationship with Louise, who spends more time with the kids and host mom because Nick works all day. Nick invited Louise to a daddy-daughter activity at the church, a little hesitant because Louise lost her father when she was only 3. It turned out to be a turning point in their relationship, and Nick has become more of a father figure for Louise.
As for Christmas break, Louise was super sick with the flu for the first 10 days. But that didn’t keep her from watching the kids open presents Christmas morning or Skyping with her family the 24th and 25th (or even driving to Utah for a week!). On Christmas Eve, Louise’s family in Denmark opened presents (while Skyping) from the Winters, and on Christmas Day, the Winters opened presents from Louise’s family (Skype).
Louse and the Winters also love to travel together. They’ve been to the beach, the mountain, and recently to Utah for snow and time with extended family. They are even going on a Caribbean cruise together this spring!
One of the most perfect matches ever, between an amazing girl and an amazing host family. Also proof that you do not need teenagers to be a great host family!” — Erin, CETUSA Coordinator, North Plains, OR