Greetings! My name is Melissa. I live in Wisconsin with my husband Frank and our dog Kiah. We first learned about CIEE after hosting an exchange student through another organization this summer - we enjoyed our short-term hosting experience so much that we jumped at the opportunity to host for the entire school year! We are a double placement family which means we are able to host two exchange students from different countries for the school year.
Currently, we are hosting Mara from Germany and Chayada (Grace) from Thailand. We were given very basic information as well as a little get to know you Q&A that they had answered prior to actually meeting the girls. I was so excited to learn more about where they were from, what their families and culture were like, and their interests. We exchanged emails, text messages, and set up video calls prior to their arrival which gave us the opportunity to get to know one another, answer logistical questions, address concerns, and start our bucket list. We were even able to meet Mara's family - technology is awesome! As their arrival date approached, I put together welcome baskets for them filled with basic school supplies, treats, and other fun items. I decorated their rooms with red, white, and blue streamers and flags and also made large signs to take to the airport. I wanted to celebrate their arrival and hoped that they would feel as though they were part of our family right from the start. Finally, Arrival Day was here! I was emotional when they exited their terminals and we were able to greet each other in person. In just one month together, we have built a strong connection through open conversation and family activities.
We are four people from three very different parts of the world that are now forever bonded thanks to the opportunity to host through CIEE. I look forward to sharing our day to day lives and many adventures with you!