Do We Need A Host Family?

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Host family? When I heard this word for the first time, I was still in China, preparing for coming to the US. I received an email from Extension Center of UC Davis that told me I would stay in my host family at the first three weeks.  “Why I have to stay in other people’s home? Do I really need a ‘family’ in the United States?” I wondered. Now, my answer is definitely “YES”and “as soon as possible”, but it’s really hard for me to understand four months ago.

What is host family? It is a new concept for me and most of the Humphrey Fellows. According to the University of Minnesota, the mission of the host family program is two-fold: “to assist the International Fellows in adjusting to life in the United States”, and ” to provide an opportunity for cultural sharing between the host families, the community, and the International Fellows.

My host family in Davis has five family members. They are my host father Eddie(55), host mother Kathy(48), host brother Kyle(19), host sister Tara(21)  , and Cherry–a lovely one year old dog. I didn’t expect too much before I met them, but they gave me much more happiness than I can imagine. Kathy and Eddie are so kind and warm-hearted, treated me as their own family member. They helped me got my new mobile phone, rent my bicycle, bought my new charger for laptop on the first day, and show me around the city and the campus. It made me feel settle down on the very beginning. And also made me feel home.

Kathy, Eddie and I on Kyle's graduation ceremony on June 10th.

I’d rather call Kathy and Eddie as my host friends than host mother and father. We talked everyday after dinner. We shared our experience of the day, we compared the different culture between China and US, we shared our opinion on the hot issues from the TV, we talked about  our families, like old friends. Every Tuesday night became our “Movie Night”, even after I moved to the dorm.

I think host family program is a very good idea for international students to emerge in the new culture and society very easily and quickly. And the host family also can get different experience and make new friends from other countries. But some of my fellows complained about their host families because of their different living habits and culture values. Maybe they were not as lucky as me. But, no matter how ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’ we are, I still think it is a good opportunity for us to know about the American family and society more deeply.

I miss Kathy and Eddie. They also miss me. In her email, Kathy wrote to me:” Eddie and I have been going to the movies every Tuesday and it has been fun. I don’t think we have seen so many movies since before we got married and had kids.” I feel happy, not only because I got happiness from my host family, but also because I gave happiness to them.

2 Comments on “Do We Need A Host Family?”

  1. Thank you Alex for this article. An idea of having host family is great just in the case if it’s really working. I spoke with some other Fellows in California and they did not have that luck as I had. My host family in Davis was the best..and im chatting with them almost every day. Who knows, maybe im going to visit them. And also, I am really, really impressed with my host family here in Arizona. Every time they made that i feel like im at home. I love them!:)

  2. I had a good host family experience when I lived for 3 months in Costa Rica. My “mama tica” would cook the most amazing meals-! My host sisters were younger than me and still in high school, but they were always very kind. I think that experience was very useful for the cultural exchange and familiarization with regional sayings and “Costa Rican Spanish.” Looking back, I only wish that I could have formed more lasting ties while I was there.

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