Bonds Last Long After
Exchange students with their host parents in front of the family home

Important lessons on exchange

At first, I thought it would be hard for me to live with new people for a year. But after two weeks in the same house and sharing lots of things, I realized that it was amazing.

My host dad and mom were sweet and caring parents. They helped me learn a lot about America. For example, when I first arrived I thought ketchup and tomato sauce were two different things. My mom told me that they were the same and what I called tomato sauce was ketchup.

They always supported everything that I did, like coming to all of my choir concerts. Sometimes, my dad also helped me understand my U.S. History and Sociology classes. We had long conversations about life, and they shared some advice about life and love with me. That is a sweet memory.

I don’t know what my exchange year would have been like without them. My favorite time with my family in the U.S. was dinner time. During dinner, we had conversations about things that happened at school, and sometimes I shared about my culture.

My favorite time with my family in the U.S. was dinner time.

My family not only changed my perspective about America but they also gave me a new perspective about how to see the world and how should I see myself as a girl and as a human in this world. Before I came to Indiana, I always thought that beauty was about clear skin and a perfect body shape and thought that I was not a pretty girl. One day, my host mom told me that beauty is about a pure and kind heart. My mom and dad always told me that I was beautiful just the way I am and helped me feel more confident.

I’m so grateful to have them in my life. Even after my exchange year, they support everything that I do and help me to build my confidence. During my final exam, they said that they believed that I could pass and get the best score. They are truly a blessing for me.

I was also fortunate to have a super supportive Community Coordinator: Stacey. Stacey and his wife Gwen are the sweetest couple that I have ever met! They were so supportive of me from my first day in Indiana. They always tried to make us all feel comfortable during our exchange program.

They found ways to make us happy like inviting us to their house to have a movie night. We went to Stacey’s mom’s house to learn how to make greeting cards, and we had a fun international dinner where every student brought one traditional dish from their country.

There were many other wonderful activities. My favorite time with my coordinator was international night. It was fun for everyone to cook different foods in the same house, eat together, and exchange recipes. 

Stacey and Gwen also helped us to find a place to volunteer. I’m so grateful for having them in my life! Thanks for everything, Stacey and Gwen!

—Erisa (YES 2019/20, Indonesia), hosted by the Schwartz family (IN)