My name is Dolores (Didi) Gingue. I am a 52 year old mother of two adult children. My husband, Raymond, and I have been married for 26 years. We live in the small town of Arlington,Vermont. We have been hosting exchange students since 2015. We are currently hosting Alberto from Spain. Our family consists of we, Raymond, our son Zach (25), and our daughter Amelia (20).
I was a stay-at-home mother with each of my children until they started preschool. Zach and Amelia both attended and graduated from Arlington Memorial High School. Arlington is a very small town in southwestern Vermont. AMHS is quite small with the average graduating class size of 22-28 students. Arlington is very picturesque and a typical New England town with typical New England residents – think Normal Rockwell, who actually lived and painted in Arlington for 14 years. Many of the models in his paintings were from Arlington.
We are a pretty average family for the area. Raymond and Zach both hunt – more Raymond than Zach. I knit and crochet. Amelia enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles, drawing, coloring and paint-by-numbers. Zach and Amelia both played soccer. Zach also played golf, baseball, and was on the school snowboard team. Amelia was shortstop on the high school softball team. I am a paralegal. Raymond is a tractor-trailer truck driver for UPS. Zach manages a pizzeria. Amelia is a college student who is taking a semester off.
In late July 2015, I received an email from the communications director from AMHS that there was an organization looking for a host family for an exchange student from Spain. After a quick family discussion, we volunteered. We had less than a week to prepare for Diego’s arrival. We read the country profile provided by CIEE, did a marathon clean out of the guestroom (which we were using for storage), shopped for new bedding to spruce up the room and we were off to the airport for pick up. It wasn’t until Amelia and I were on our way to the airport that the realization that we had committed to hosting a 16 year from another country for ten months set in. What would we do if he didn’t like us, if we didn’t like him? Once we met Diego, it was very clear that neither of these thing would be a problem. Now we are hosting our 5th exchange student. We have hosted Diego (Spain), Ben (Germany), Davide (Italy), and Linus (Germany).
This year we are hosting Alberto (Spain). As soon as we have our placement set, I send the student’s parents a copy of the schedule for the school year; physical forms for sports participation (if they are planning on playing a sport); discuss with the parents rules about, dating, riding in cars with kids, curfews, and expectations on the student as a member of our family. I also have some of the kids that they will be in school with reach out to the student over social media so they can start making connections with the peers. I find that doing that and having the student participate in a sport, or other extra-curricular activity, helps to smooth the transition.
Alberto has been here for 6 weeks and I believe this will be another successful exchange, but each time, on the way to the airport, we have the same feeling of excited anticipation.