Hosted 3 students; including Res from Switzerland
Brad & Janet's Story
Having hosted YFU exchange students for three years has been extremely rewarding for us, as we have no children of our own. Hosting allows us the opportunity to share our home, our life and our love, as well as American traditions and culture.
This year has been no exception. Res arrived in August; it is now June and he will be returning to Switzerland very soon. My, how these ten months have flown! Res has truly become a member of our family. Many people throughout this year have even commented to us that Res and Brad look alike! Throughout this year, Res has excelled academically at Southern Nash High School, as well as athletically, participating on the school’s tennis team. Not only have we been able to share our American culture with Res, but we have in turn learned a lot about Swiss traditions and cuisine. We have also enjoyed getting to “meet” his family via webcam.
Hosting is not about changing your family’s current lifestyle, but is about your exchange student blending into your family’s routine. Although we will be sad to see him leave, we will always know that we have a “son” in Switzerland!
My name is Res and I am from Switzerland. I am in my exchange year in North Carolina. This year is almost over and I can not even express in words what a great experience I had during the past ten months.
It always was my dream to come to the United States for an exchange year, so my dream became true. However, I never thought it was going to be as great as it turned out. I didn`t have a host family until two weeks before my flight to the USA, so I didn’t know what to expect. But after I arrived I knew quickly that I got really lucky to stay with my great host parents.
After I arrived in Raleigh, I started my first day of high school at Southern Nash. I didn’t know anybody, but everyone showed a lot of interest in this foreign European guy. Of course, I struggled a little bit with my English and it was hard to understand the southern accent as well, but the other students and the teachers were really nice and helped me out. So now after ten months I actually dream in English - strange isn’t it?
During this year I saw so many things and I had so many amazing experiences. I could tell stories all day long. At my school it didn’t take long to find friends because the other teenagers are really cool and tried to get to know me better. At the beginning I didn’t think that the friendships here were going to be that close compared with my friendships from back home; I have known my Swiss friends ever since was a little boy. But after I got to know the guys better and better we all became really close friends even in this short time of ten months. So now the thought of leaving all those people gives me a really hard time. I am very thankful that I got to stay with my host parents, the Joyners. We had an incredible time and they are just amazing people. They showed me the American lifestyle, the culture, the area around Rocky Mount where we live, different places in North Carolina and they even took me to the beach a few times. But besides that they also showed me that they are my American parents and they included me in their life as if I was their own son.
While I was here I also met other exchange students from a lot of different countries and even got the chance to visit California, New York and Washington DC. High School is very different from school in Switzerland. It was really cool to have classes like weightlifting or art but besides the “easy” classes I also learned a lot about the USA and its history. The high school’s spirit, the teachers, and the students were all just amazing.
My host dad is a history teacher, and he also coaches tennis at Southern Nash. After I first got here he told me about the successful tennis history of the Firebirds and that they made it to the state semifinal the past two years. I was really impressed, and even though I didn’t play tennis for the past five years, I wanted to play for my school. So I started practicing during the off- season and during the winter with the other guys and my host dad. I never ever thought that I would improve that much but I did and at the beginning of the season in February and ended up being the #1 ranked player on the team. Our team was great and we all were like brothers. We helped each other to get better and our coach (my host dad) led us to the playoffs with the conference title. We finished the season with a loss in the state semifinal.
A few weeks ago we had our senior awards day. I honestly thought that I won’t win any awards as an exchange student because I just attended the school for one year. But I got surprised! I won the Senior Art Award and the US History Award. I was so happy and it was such a great honor for me. Later in the day we also had the senior awards night where the colleges announce scholarships and different awards are given away. After I already got surprised in the morning I didn’t expect any more awards. But then two US Army officers went on the stage and started talking about an award – and to my surprise they said that I am the winner. I really didn’t realize it until my friend poked me and said “Dude, that’s you!” So I went on the stage and got an award and certificate for athletic and academic excellence from the US Army. I couldn’t believe it! It was the biggest honor for me.
I will miss my host parents and friends once I return to Switzerland, but I will never forget my exchange year of 2009 and 2010- it was the best year of my life.
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