United Studies Host Family Spotlight - the Schupps

17 May 2020

Today we are shining the spotlight on the Schuup's!  These two have opened their home to almost two dozen exchange students over the years and are sharing with us their experiences hosting - sometimes two! - exchange students.

When did you first begin hosting?

We began hosting in 2002 when our daughter was a sophomore in high school.

How many exchange students have you hosted over the years?  

16!  Number 17 is due to arrive in August 2020!

How did you get involved in hosting exchange students?

Originally, we saw a request in our church bulletin for host families (with another organization). We were intrigued, as we have only one daughter, and she wanted a sister who would go horseback riding with her.  We had also actually hosted a French boy for a month one summer back in the early- to mid-80s, and that was fun.

What countries have your students been from?

Germany (3 students), Norway (2), Spain (1), Moldova (1), Scotland (1), Brazil (2), Thailand (2), Poland (1), Italy (2), Australia (1).  Some of them were double placements, and we took a year off here and there.

Why do you enjoy hosting?

We love meeting people from new and different places and learning about different cultures.  Plus, they become part of our family while they’re here and, in some cases, the relationship will last for a lifetime.

What are some of your favorite memories from hosting over the years?

The close bond we have developed with some of the students is a reward in itself.  We also have really enjoyed their excitement at seeing new places that we have shown them, whether it is New York City or a western national park.  

We also have fantastic memories of them preparing a special meal from their country or introducing us to a new custom we were not previously aware of.  A particularly vivid memory is their sadness at leaving.  That makes the whole experience so worthwhile.

Have you visited any of your past exchange students?  How was that experience seeing them and their natural parents in their own country?

We have definitely enjoyed visiting several of our students (half of them!), some multiple times, plus some have come back to visit us!  We have been to weddings, enjoyed visits with them and their families, toured with them.  Their natural parents have been very gracious, and we have established bonds with some of them, also.  We have even become family with the cousin of one of our students, and he has stayed with us several times.  The students and their families are always excited to show us their countries.

You have double-hosted exchange students, what has that been like?

There are advantages and disadvantages.  Since we no longer have kids at home, having two students gives them someone closer to their own age to talk to here at home.  Sometimes, though, they aren’t that close, so there can be some tension, especially if one has a dominant personality.  They may be less open to finding new friends at school, because they have a tendency to stick together more than looking for new acquaintances.  It does, however, give them the opportunity to learn about an additional culture. 

What have you learned about the world through hosting?

While customs vary in different countries, people are people and have the same hopes and concerns as everyone else.  Family is important, wherever it is!

What has been the biggest benefit of hosting?  What has been some of your biggest challenges hosting exchange students?

The biggest benefit is having contacts all over the world and enjoying their company while they’re here.  Some of the challenges ….  Some have gone through a little homesickness and struggled at first with adapting to a new family.  While most have been extremely good in English when they arrived, others had a lot of trouble communicating at first.  But everyone was open to becoming part of the family.

What advice do you have for new host families?

Treat them like your own child.  They are not guests.  If you invite them on a trip or outing, don’t expect them to pay.  Don’t let them lock themselves in their room; get them involved with the family.  Encourage them to participate in extra-curricular activities, such as sports, music, or drama.  That is a great way to make new friends and fight boredom.

In your opinion, why should “older” or retired people?

It keeps you young and involved!  It’s a great way to get out and rediscover your own area as you share it with the student. 

Are you a retired couple who is looking to make a difference with youth?  Why not host an exchange student!  Visit our WEBSITE today for more information!

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