During my high school years in the US, I had the privilege of becoming a host sister through YFU on four occasions. Twice, my family hosted for an entire year, and on the other two occasions, it was a short-term hosting as a temporary host family.
Embracing the role of a host sister with YFU has been transformative, shaping me into the individual I am today. It’s undeniably one of the most enriching decisions my parents made on my behalf. This unique experience granted me a global perspective right within my home. Not only did I gain insights into the diverse cultures of our exchange students, but it also prompted me to reflect on my own cultural roots and learn about myself.
My association with these exchange students, who journeyed halfway across the globe, stepping into the unfamiliar world of high school in a foreign land, was truly inspiring. Their zest to embrace everything our family and culture had to offer nudged me towards greater independence and a willingness to venture out of my comfort zone.
Adjusting to a new family member meant I had to learn how live in my house with another teenager sharing not only my space but also the undivided attention of my parents that I was used to! This shift nudged me towards better my communication skills. For the first time, I found myself coordinating bathroom schedules and fine-tuning my time management to accommodate my new sibling. Their presence became a delightful excuse for our family to indulge in more activities, be it traveling, picnics at the local park, grocery shopping sprees, or casual dinners with friends and neighbours.
The bond of a host sister is as genuine as that of a biological sibling. We defiantly drove each other crazy sometimes, for example Mike’s perpetual struggle with song lyrics or Hannah’s incessant chatter while I was doing my homework. Yet, they were my best friends. There were countless cherished moments too, such as helping Josie with her ‘PROMposal’ and now the heartwarming letters (and emails!) Hannah and I continue to exchange, updating each other about our lives. We all had different interests, but at night, as a family, we would come together to eat dinner, laugh, and talk about our day.
I am eternally grateful to YFU for giving me my Danish and German sisters and the other host siblings along the way. I can’t wait for the next time that I get to visit them, or they visit me here in my new home, New Zealand.
Jordan (YFU Australia & New Zealand Board member & former YFU Host Sister)