Read as Cindy, a host mother in Michigan, reflects on her eye-opening experience hosting Hangoma, a FLEX student from Tajikistan this past year.
Participating in the FLEX program by hosting a foreign exchange student has been a wonderful experience for our entire family. We have learned so much about other countries and cultures, not only from our student Hangoma—who comes from Tajikistan—but from other students in the program. We have enjoyed sharing our culture and traditions with our student.
Hangoma happened to be Muslim, and we are Catholic. There were certain perceptions we had of Muslims prior to this experience. My family now has a better understanding of Islam, and we now know the many similarities with Christianity. We were able to learn from one another and share our religious holiday traditions. We prepared meals together from our student’s country—such as plov, a traditional rice dish—and exchanged many stories.
In my opinion, the FLEX program is a wonderful way to bring the world closer together, one student at a time. I feel that the program benefits the host family, student and the community. So many people were impacted by us having Hangoma in our home; extended family, the school community, and friends have all enjoyed meeting and becoming friends with her. Now that she is back home, my entire family misses her terribly! I hope and pray that we see her again someday.
My Dear Family,
I would like to tell a story about my incredible exchange experience. I remember when I was dreaming about visiting America—that was my first step to make my dreams come true. Of course, my idea of American life was different before I came to the US, even though we covered a lot of things at our Pre-Departure Orientation in Kyrgyzstan …