When Stephany Villard, an NSHSS parent, got an email about the possibility of hosting an international high school student, she was intrigued. “I thought it was an excellent opportunity for us to broaden our horizons culturally,” she says.
Her son, Stephen, is a high-achieving student who was invited to be a member of NSHSS when he scored in the 98 percentile on his PSATs. Together, Stephen and his mom started looking at the profiles of exchange students who were coming to their area with AFS, a partner organization. According to Stephany, “They are very endearing, and you really get to see a little bit of them and know a little bit about what their goals are.”
Before long, Stephany and Stephen were ready to welcome Bautista from Argentina into their home in Florida. “My son and him, they really clicked right away,” Stephany explains, “and they had a really good experience together.”
Stephany also believes that hosting Bautista has helped them grow as a family. She describes all the ways the experience has benefitted her and her son: “I think of the rewards you get, of learning about this culture and the diversity of it, getting to know somebody else, and opening up your home to somebody who wants to be in America and wants to experience American culture.”
“I think the friends that you make, the expansion of your own knowledge and viewpoint is worth every last minute of it,” Stephany says. She and Stephen enjoyed their six months with Bautista so much that they decided to welcome another student, Adina from Switzerland, shortly after Bautista had left!
This fall, 2,300 high school students will be arriving from over 90 countries through AFS, a leader in international exchange for 70 years. If you’d like to learn more about hosting and meet the students coming to your area, visit afsusa.org.