Once we decided we would be host parents and our approvals had come through, we were so excited to look through profiles and select our student- until it actually came time to look through said profiles, and something just felt uncomfortable. Truth be told, it suddenly gave me anxiety. How do I even begin to choose? It’s not like I am buying a washer or a car where there’s a checklist of features and needs to use a guide. We don’t have any children or experience with raising any to use as a point of reference of who might “fit in” to our home. Do we choose a boy? A girl? Wait… these kinds of forms are likely not gender neutral, I don’t want to choose by the construct of gender.
So, do we choose based on academics? Sports? Birth order? Country of origin? Hobbies and goals? Family structure? And wait, are these markers based on how they’re applied to OUR preferences or THEIR preferences. What is the right answer!? Aaahhhh!
“Maybe this isn’t a good idea after all, this is not a light decision, we aren’t ready for this…” I thought to myself feeling overwhelmed, before, we even had any applications to consider in our inbox. It’s true when they say that dreaming about something for the majority of eternity (reference my last blog) establishes a really strange and unrealistic set of expectations of how “the thing” will actually play out.
Thankfully, we had gotten to know our Local Coordinator pretty well under separate circumstances, so she only sent us a handful of applications to consider. Had we not had the fortune of our established relationship with her, we may still be trying to make a choice, or worse, not making one at all from fear of not “doing it right.” I understand that this sort of decision may not be that difficult for some, but it was for us (okay, mostly me) and I wanted to assure we did all we could for this experience to be successful for everyone involved. If only I had a crystal ball….
“I really love all stories about magic, for example Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts.” –was no joke, the defining sentence that ultimately led us to our student. Perhaps unscientific and 100% whim driven, I can admit that we chose our student because I too (and by default the husband) love stories about magic. The series of stories J.K. Rowling has enamored us with for decades are about so much more than spells and mystical creatures, they’re about everything we face in life- such as; uncertainty, fear, trust, growth, love, friendship, sacrifice… and most of all- braveness! My best friend is a “Potterhead” – my husband is a Gryffindor, this young lady has decided to get on a Nimbus 2000 and fly across the Atlantic… this is our student!! We reviewed and discussed the other handful of applications thoroughly, but hers persisted in our soul like the Hogwarts acceptance letter addressed to the boy living in the cupboard under the stairs.
So it was, the girl who lived in the yellow farmhouse on the hill, of a German town called Schwerte, became the student we’d be so lucky to spend the next year with.