LizBy Elizabeth Bonilla, 2015 American Youth Leadership Host Family Reflection

My experience as a host mom has been very rewarding and although it was just for a short time, the connections and bonds that were formed were incredible and will last for a lifetime. Although my own children’s Spanish is not too good, they were able to verbally communicate okay but most importantly they were able to connect on a much more-deeper emotional level.

At the beginning my host son was very shy and the quietest in the group, but when he left he was more self-confident. For us (my-self and my two kids) it was very interesting to learn about the Ecuadoran culture through the eyes of a 15 year old. We learned about his culture, his behavior, beliefs, and values and although at first getting him to eat the food was a bit challenging, by the second week he developed an insatiable appetite which I was very happy for (since as a parent knowing that your child has sufficient food to eat is very gratifying, well at least for me!). My host son was also very amazed and impressed (believe it or not) with our city, the tall building, the many lane highways, traffic, the music played at church, to mention a few.

To sum it up, this exchange was definitely a pleasant bonus for our family, it’s not for everyone, but if you are the one, then you need to go in it, with an open mind and a warm heart, because you need to be willing to accept your host child for who he or she is at the moment they arrive in your home and wait for the transformation to happen afterwards without you really thinking that you did anything big to make it happen.