Host Parent Post-interview

14 07 2013

Our son has now been gone for a month. He returned home to Thailand, to his real family, just before my birthday. Since then, we have caught up with the other host moms and talked about our shared experiences being parents to foreign teenagers in America. It was a fascinating comparison.


We knew from the beginning that our Thai son was special. He was friendly, outgoing, yet polite and respectful. He offered to help with chores, and spent all his free time translating his studies between languages. We loved him from the start, and were so thankful that we were able to find a way to keep him for the entire school year.


Today, while visiting with a good friend after a couple of months, she asked me, “Do you miss your exchange student?” I paused, and realized that there was not a stock answer to this question.

Not every host family experience is the same, or as easy and enjoyable. In fact, from those whom I’ve spoken with, there seemed to be a trend. Often, the family will host because they have kids of their own in high school, and like the idea of the exposure to another culture. Often, it allows American kids a chance to see what they take for granted. Sometimes it gives the exchange student a built-in friend to help them acclimate to their new school. But, with the repeat host families, there always seems to be that horror story. It’s like gambling with fate. There are only so many times you can do it before you get one of those. The odds were in our favor.

bank homesoming 1

Our son was involved in several after school clubs, but seldom spent time hanging out with his many new friends. Perhaps because of mobility, but mostly because of his dedication to his schoolwork and his ability to prioritize. In fact, we had to warn him in advance if we wanted to take him to do something fun, so that he could budget his time accordingly and accomplish his goals ahead of time. Still, we loved exposing him to our fun, seasonal traditions.


We never had to deal with him lying (much), or sneaking out, or doing illegal things, or having sex. We escaped the notorious Prom fiasco of “I’m spending the night at so-and-so’s house,” by taking him to Chicago that weekend. We didn’t even have that much of the departure blues that most families experience when someone leaves after being a part of their family for nine months.


When Bank left, we were sad to see him go, but it was also a return to our ‘normal,’ non-parent lives. We had nobody else to worry about preparing meals for, nobody to ask when they’d be home, nobody to consult when making plans, and no more responsibility beyond ourselves. It wasn’t ‘hard’ to be a host parent, but it was different.

When asked if I missed Bank, I tried to explain. I didn’t ‘miss’ him, in the sense of an absence or longing for what was, but I do spend time fondly remembering how much richness he added to our lives. I wouldn’t trade our time together for anything. I’m so glad that we got to meet this young man, and hopefully influence his future in some way or another. We love you, Bank. You will always be our Thai son.



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