Brooke Jasper

Brooke Jasper

Guest Columnist

When taking on an adventure, one can be anything he or she desires. The world has loads of opportunity in store.

Welcoming global exposure into your home allows rich life experiences to build better cultural adjustment. Each year, high schools worldwide, including our very own Central DeWitt, host students from all over the world as part of an international exchange program. Luckily, for the 2018-19 school year, my family’s request to serve as a host family quickly became accepted. 

For the first time in my life, I understood that family is more than blood and a name, especially with a foreign sister. 

Personally, life as a host sister is one of the greatest adventures and blessings. Initially, many siblings may feel less than enthused, to say the least. I promise, however, that any concern will rapidly diminish.

Will she eat the rest of my favorite ice cream in the freezer? Is she going to keep her room as clean as mine? Will we ever get bored? 

Despite many nerve-wracking wonders, having someone to look after and share my deepest secrets and home with excited me from the beginning. We protect each other as if we’ve grown up together our own and share an exceptional love for ice cream.

Most of the time, our favorite dessert serves as a way to celebrate our survival at another cross country or track meet. We also enjoy spending lazy Sundays watching “Grey’s Anatomy” while savoring delicions Norwegian chocolate or a bowl of Kraft mac ‘n cheese. Although having a sister my age has only worsened my procrastination and shopping addiction, both characteristics bring us closer. 

During an exchange year, the exposure to different cultures, languages, and ideas is significant. In so little time, everyone surrounded gains a wider knowledge of the world. 

As a family, we’ve grown and developed enlightening perspectives that change everyone in ways we never would have imagined. My family, as well as my foreign sister, are better people with a greater sense of humor since she has arrived. I’m grateful for sharing American traditions — such as two weddings and holidays — allowing her to learn first-hand about unique customs in the United States. 

Volunteering at events such as Night to Shine and Up with Families is another wonderful experience together, considering these opportunities are limited in other parts of the world. 

According to the Institute of International Education, more than 82,000 international students studied at U.S. high schools in 2017. Many more individuals are interested; unfortunately, there aren’t enough hosts available. 

If at any time you’ve considered this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please look into doing so. It’s much easier and far more rewarding than I could’ve imagined.

Serving as a host family will truly change your life for the better for both sides involved. I’ve found that expanding international perspectives has influenced my own decision to travel abroad. Truthfully, there has been no greater experience in my life than hosting my best friend. It’s time that America welcomes more sweet people like my long-lost sister into our homes. 

Ultimately, I hope that every person in this world has the opportunity to gain someone like my foreign sister in their life.

To any past or present host parent or sibling who may be reading this, thank you. Thank you for making exchange students feel right at home even though they’re thousands of miles away from their own family and friends. 

Whether for a few months or a year, traveling to a foreign land offers something completely unknown and is difficult to do. I’ll hug her a little longer and tighter to thank her for loving me unconditionally. She means more to me than she’ll ever know. I can’t wait to experience her world as I get to play the role of the visitor when traveling to Norway. 

Sincerely, an American sister.

Brooke Jasper is a senior at Central DeWitt High School and a part of a Composition II class, a college-level writing class offered at the school through Clinton Community College.