Of the 44 times we have hosted students over the last 13 years, we have always felt some anxiety but mostly anticipation when expecting another visitor from overseas. Fortunately there has been minimum cause for worry and a myriad of delightful experiences.
The fact that both the students and ourselves can interact with no cultural, religious or racial boundaries means that we can have mutual benefits from these brief encounters. Hopefully we have been able to impart some knowledge of Australian culture while learning more about various Asian customs. If only this could happen all over the world!
There is a story about every student who has lived with us, but some stand out more than others! Naoya from Japan was extrovert in every way, doing everything with utmost enthusiasm - from 'bombing' in our neighbour's pool, enjoying the Bush Dance to crying at the airport. Jiro from Japan attended Graduation night wearing an Akubra complete with dangling corks and sunglasses and insisted on having his photo taken with everyone!
It is always a buzz to receive letters, cards or emails from these people who have become part of our extended family. I was fortunate to be able to meet some of our ex-students when visiting Japan in 2004 and was overwhelmed by their hospitality and generosity.
Our lives have certainly been made richer by being a Homestay family.
Malcolm and Judy
I had always thought about hosting an international student but I wasn’t sure how I could fit it into my busy lifestyle. Nevertheless I took the plunge, I was prepared to commit to a short two and a half week study tour with a Japanese student from Waseda University, Tokyo.
I was paired with a female student with similar interests to mine and we got along like a house on fire! Ayaka was a 19 year old Sports Science student whose interests included fashion, art, practical jokes and The Beatles.
At first the language barrier was a little tough and we communicated through a combination of charades and her portable electronic dictionary, but in no time Ayaka’s English improved immensely and we were able to chat about almost anything!
Initially I was bit wary that Ayaka’s stay would be time consuming and I was nervous that hosting a student would be more of a hindrance than a positive experience - this was hardly the case. Ayaka was very self-sufficient, respectful and always helped me out when necessary. She experienced things we take for granted like a clean beach, an Aussie BBQ, a typical Sunday garage sale and even helped me catch a huntsman that was on the loose in the house!
My time with Ayaka was very special and it was a great cultural experience for both of us. We shared an amazing bond and my friends and family absolutely adored her! I know that Ayaka and I will be friends for life and I can’t wait to visit her in Japan one day!
‘Hi Jane, have you got a spare bed? Would you like to host a Japanese student for 3 weeks?’ That’s the leading question that got us involved in hosting short term University Students way back in 1997. Our lives have been full ever since.
We have thoroughly enjoyed meeting young women from Japan, as well as China and South Korea. Many have stayed in contact over the years, and several have returned for a holiday with us. 'Yuki' even returned to Adelaide on her honeymoon!
‘Noriko’ was very special to us. She was supposed to stay only 4 weeks, then move into University housing. After the 5th week, she reluctantly packed her bags and shifted in on Saturday afternoon, with a colourful doona and an orange gerbera (plant that absorbs paint smells). Monday afternoon she popped through the door. ‘Hi Mum, I’m home. No classes this week, ok if I stay here?’
Her 20th birthday was in January. It is a big deal in Japan, but she was in Adelaide. As the middle child, she’d never even had a birthday party, so we planned a surprise one for her. A friend of hers joined us for dinner, followed by a doggy walk (pre-planned). The guests sneaked in while she was out. The surprise on her face was beautiful to see. The tears ran down her face; she was ’gobsmacked’. She has returned to Adelaide once since completing her studies here, and we stay in regular contact.
Jane and John
My husband and I have been involved in PCE's Homestay program since 2008. Our first student came from Japan for a period of 6 weeks. We were out of our comfort zone. Whilst waiting for Yuki to arrive at the airport, we were so nervous - were we doing the right thing? Would he like us? What will happen if we cannot understand him? Yuki arrived, and, yes he could speak enough English for us to communicate, and he was an absolute joy to have in the home. Once he met the grandchildren it was 'love at first sight'. Yuki was an excellent role model and friend to Cooper and Josh and even taught them some soccer skills. When Yuki left Adelaide, it devastated our family as he was a wonderful young man and we saw how much his English improved in the 6 weeks. Since we had such a memorable time with Yuki, we decided to continue hosting.
We have had amazing experiences being host parents to students from Japan, South Korea, China and Iraq.
Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed having Muthanna from Baghdad stay with us for about 9 months, as we learnt so much from him. We continue to maintain contact with all our students on a regular basis. Mark, a Chinese student, who came to us for a 6 week stay in 2009 will be with us for another 2 yrs. He has become a big part of our family. We have never regretted our decision to host international students and it has been easy to adapt to the experience with the amazing personality and experience of Helen, PCE’s Homestay Coordinator.
Pauline and Paul
My family became involved with the home stay program a couple of years ago and it has been thoroughly enjoyable for us.
We wanted to experience what different cultures have to offer and to be able to do this in our own home has been so much fun. We have had the pleasure of hosting students from Japan and Korea both long and short stay and have enjoyed both.
We have done several trips with our students to wildlife parks and I never get tired of watching my children laughing and interacting with the students as the relish the job of sharing their knowledge about each animal.
Dinner parties are always fun but even more so for me when I sit down to a beautiful traditional meal prepared by the students. These evenings are full of stories, laughter and fantastic food.
These students have such an amazing study ethic and it has been wonderful to expose my children to this. They also enjoy playing and sharing new and fun things with the children.
Most of the students we have had the pleasure of hosting have really embraced the Australian way of life and have had a thoroughly enjoyable time. We have stayed in contact with a lot of our students and I particularly enjoy hearing about what is happening in their lives as they continue their journey through life in their home country. We hope to visit them some day.
One of the main benefits of hosting a student, for us, has been meeting their friends and also their host families and we have met such interesting people and have made friendships that will last a lifetime.
Hosting students has been a life changing experience for my family.