Susanne had always been intrigued by the prospect of hosting an exchange student but was hesitant about how it would fit into her family’s life. She had multiple conversations with a friend of hers who was working at the Borderless Friends Forever office discussing their work and the value it brought to communities. Her friend would call her periodically to inquire as to whether she’d be interested in hosting an exchange student, but she was not yet convinced it would fit into her family’s routine. One day, that same friend called to inform her that a student was looking for a welcome family. The community advisor was elated that the timing was just right. She thought that being a welcome family would allow her to test the waters of host parenting through a lower commitment opportunity. Susanne’s journey as a host mother began with this call. In a matter of days, the child was on a plane on the way to North Carolina to join the Fedchenko family.
Fast forward to today, Susanne has hosted many students, works as a community advisor for BFF, and has recently welcomed two more daughters for the 2023-2024 academic school year. When asked what she would say to someone considering hosting she replied, “Don’t overthink it and just do it, there are moments that happen between you and your children that will change your life”. One of those moments was when Anuka her daughter from Bangladesh first swam in a pool. It was an experience that she had never had in her home country and just witnessing her eyes light up as she descended into the unfamiliar body of water was enough for Susanne to solidify her long lasting commitment to being a host mom.
Susanne emphasizes that there is a misconception about what is expected of a host family. Contrary to popular belief, lavish activities are not required nor expected. Most of her students have expressed interest in experiencing everyday American life, such as shopping at Walmart, trying fast food chains, and simply exploring the community. It is the little moments of newness and joy that have made Susanne’s experience fulfilling and it is exactly why she continually seeks to expand her family across borders and cultural differences.