A few weeks back the CHI Virginia group (7 exchange students, 4 host families, and a couple of the CHI staff) took a hike together.
It was warm (I got a little sunburned), but our families had fun. Getting to spend the day with our amazing big-hearted host families was awesome. I felt pretty excellent about having connected the students with these great people that they’ve spent the year with. The part that I delighted in was getting to listen (eavesdrop) on the teens as they discussed friendships, sports, school activities, family outings, prom, etc. It felt really special to be with these kids from all over the globe as they shared this common experience together.
Here are some of our pictures from the day.
I think days like this are important. It gives the students an opportunity to come together with a group of kids that are having similar experiences. I think in this same way it’s a great opportunity for our host families to get to know each other. I like to imagine that we will begin to build community; that there are families who might continue to host and will get to know each other through sharing these times together.
This year the CHI exchange students in Virginia went to D.C. for a day together for orientation, volunteered together during the winter holidays by caroling at an assisted living community, and as the year comes to a close we took a family hike together. I hope that in years to come there will be more activities like these and I’ve put together a tentative schedule for next year.
I like to think that this really is the magic of cultural exchange. We come together as strangers and leave as friends.