Testimonial from a host family

Dear Friends at TIS,
A few weeks ago, I had no idea we would have a 16 year old exchange student from China. A few days ago, I saw the bright smile of my new international exchange daughter, Elaine. As she came through PDX security, she saw my greeting sign, and her smile filled my heart. [When Youth for Understanding International Exchange (YFU.org) contacted us to be a welcoming family (host for 6 weeks), we were glad to do it. Shawna from YFU explained that students who stay with welcoming families make friends and connections when school starts, and finish the year living with a family with children their own age. Now that Elaine is here, I wonder if we might be able to host her all year!] I am already so happy she has joined our family!

She brought just a few clothes with her. (I asked what was in the two giant suitcases, and she said, “Presents.”) So, one of the fun things we’ve done in the last few days is go shopping for clothes for a teenager. Who knew that such a simple task could change my point of view? Before, when I walked by XXI Forever, I wondered who would wear such clothes. Now, I find myself thinking, “Elaine would look cute in that!” Elaine brought her own money for these items. Also, she has health insurance through YFU, and a booklet that lists her immunizations. Registering for High School so far has been easy because of how prepared she is, under the guidance of her parents and the help of YFU. Even in the short time since we agreed to be a host family, YFU has given us support, in the form of a local YFU representative whom we can contact any time, an online orientation that gives clear guidance on how we can help Elaine quickly become a part of our family, rather than a guest, and where we can turn if we need help working out issues we encounter in the next year.

I have found that Elaine and I have similar tastes in food, and so it had been fun cooking with her. (She chooses not to use as much butter and cheese as me, though.) She has been so friendly and warm in this time we have spent together. As we register her for the local high school, I am excited for the friends she will make, and the adventures in the year ahead.
Colette Rabdau
Mom of 5th Grade Chinese Student, and more!