Who knew that Switzerland would have a version of our infamous Betty Crocker? Betty Bossi was created in the 1950’s and her recipe books can be found in most Swiss kitchen’s today. And from one of those books comes the Chocolate Mousse recipe of one of our exchange students, Anne-Leonie Meier. This delicious dessert of Swiss chocolate and cream was prepared for us one Thanksgiving. This recipe is just one of the hundreds of memories we have from our experiences of hosting students from abroad. (Click here for the recipe).
Kyung Chang was our first exchange student. Although Korean, he came to us in August 2008 by way of a small school in New York. His father who does business in the US wanted to decrease the number of places he had to visit his son and two daughters, all of whom were studying in the US. To be closer to his older sister who was attending Purdue, Kyung applied to Central Catholic, and we chose to be his host parents.
Kyung was with us for his sophomore year through the first semester of his senior year. His last semester, he was fortunate to have his mother come over to live with him and his sister. Kyung was excited to have his mother cook for him again as he really missed his Korean food! And we were so lucky to have Mrs. Chang fix us an out of this world Korean meal while she was here.
While Kyung was with us, our family developed a connection with the Korean culture we never would have had otherwise. We learned that while Kyung was the youngest child, being the only boy translated into big responsibilities for his family (his father had a book that traced his family back 35 generations!). As a result, getting good grades and getting into a good college with a great SAT score was a high priority in Kyung’s world. I remember the countless post-it notes all over the wall above his desk in his bedroom. And while Kyung studied for the SATs, we assisted him in developing other facets in his life outside the academic realm by getting him involved in the swim team and cross-country. He also had the opportunity to learn more about his Catholic faith, and we learned a lot about Catholicism in Korea, too.
After Kyung graduated, Anne-Leonie arrived in 2011. I initially met Anne-Leonie on a 2007 trip to Switzerland to meet my distant relatives. While there, I mentioned to the young children, “If you ever want to come to study in the US, you can stay with me.” Who knew taking a year off during high school was commonplace in Switzerland? Four years later, Anne-Leonie took me up on my offer.
Anne-Leonie brought change to our household – not because she was Swiss, but because she was a girl. In a household of four boys, our youngest son now had the pleasure of sharing a bathroom with a girl! There were new TV shows to be watched like Say Yes to the Dress and Pretty Little Liars. And American events like the prom became a whole new adventure with hair, makeup and dresses.
Anne-Leonie also introduced us to her US History Cemetery project classmate, Yoonha, a Korean girl who needed a host family her senior year. Yoonha lived with us for a semester in 2012. And today, four years after Anne-Leonie’s stay with us, her brother, Thibault, is attending Central Catholic as a junior. His opportunities to be on the football, swim and track teams have given him some unforgettable memories. Sometimes, when I see pictures online of his family skiing in the Alps, I worry that we are not interesting enough. However, Thibault quickly reminds me that there are no basketball games to attend while dressed in garb for that night’s theme or high school dances or football championships in Switzerland!
Serving as a host family for four exchange students over a seven-year period is a little over the top. However, especially with today’s technology like Facebook and Skype, these friendships with not only the students, but also their families, will be lifelong relationships – ones that can flourish and develop our perspective of the world.
Have you ever considered hosting a student for a year, or even a semester? Central Catholic receives 5 – 10 inquiries every year from international students wanting to study at Central Catholic. Some come for the experience of studying in the US for a year, and some stay longer to pursue a high school diploma. Some come through an official exchange program, and some transfer in on their own. But all need a host family. Currently, there are four international students who would like to study at Central Catholic in 2016-17 and will need host families.
If your family is interested in learning more about the world through the eyes of an international student, contact the Admissions office. We can connect you with students who are seeking a host family, and a lifetime of memories. 765.474.4700 or Schrader@lcss.org