S4 | Episode 806
The Villard Family (Florida) and Bautista from Argentina
In 2016 I received information from NSHSS regarding the AFS-USA program. My son Stephen then a sophomore in high school and I at first thought it would be an excellent opportunity for him to go abroad with the program but after some discussion, we agreed instead to become a host family. This was one of the most rewarding decisions we could have made. In August of 2016 our 1st student arrived. He was around the same age as my son, and although a little shy at first it wasn’t long before he settled in as a member of our immediate, extended family and circle of friends as well as creating friends of his own both in the neighborhood and at school. I witnessed first-hand the growth in both boys as they went from being shy acquaintances to becoming fast and lifelong friends. To this day a holiday does not go by without me getting greetings from my “son” Bautista. Stephen and he are in ongoing communication via social media and firmly support each other as their young lives continue to unfurl. Last year, when my older son graduated from college, Bautista made the trip to Miami to be present at the graduation and to cheer him on. The experience with Bautista was so positive that we decided to host for a 2nd time the following year when we gained a “daughter” from Switzerland who also has become a lasting member of our family. In 2017 AFS asked me to share my experience in a blog which I was very happy to do to encourage other would be host families. My one regret is that none of them got the opportunity to go to Orlando while they were with us. Getting this opportunity to reunite with either one of them would put an awesome stamp on what has already been a most amazing experience.
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