Nudrat I. is a host mom from Minnesota who is currently hosting AFS international student Saniya from India. Nudrat explains her reasons for hosting and the impact her host family experience with Saniya has had on her three young children.

Cultural learning is a two-way street

Why did we decide to host? First, my 10-year-old son wanted a playmate for his twin sisters so he could continue to be the man of the house. My twin eight-year-old daughters were interested in acquiring an older sibling so that their brother could experience what it’s like to have one. My trio goes to a Spanish immersion school and our ethnic background is from Pakistan. They cannot speak Urdu (the language in Pakistan), nor are aware of the culture. That got me interested in hosting a student from either India or Pakistan.

In August 2017, we welcomed Saniya from Hyderabad, India. Weather-wise, the lows there range between 61°F- 81°F and highs oscillate between 82°F – 102°F.  Minnesota is quite a lot cooler, and my kids’ favorite sport is ice skating. Saniya was in for the experience of her lifetime and so were we!

Our plan was to provide Saniya with guidelines for how to live a busy American life and she would teach my kids spoken Hindi, which is very similar to Urdu. After her first few days in the U.S., she was launched into the school system and my kids were practicing Hindi at family breakfast time and dinnertime. Between three languages (Spanish, English, Urdu/Hindi), we all started learning how many words in different languages sound the same but mean something completely different. For example, “more” in English means additional, but more in Urdu is “peacock”! Needless to say, we have had some very interesting conversations learning new words and sentence construction in multiple languages. It was a two-way street already. More importantly, it was fun!

For Saniya, the lifestyle has been an eye-opener. She has a regular school week with homework, while vacations/long weekends are reserved for extracurricular activities or travel plans. During our first four-day weekend in October, we drove to Laneboro, MN and did a 19-mile recreational bike-ride! TV isn’t common in our house; it’s in the basement and we cannot seem to find time to watch it unless we have scheduled a movie session on iTunes/Netflix. It took Saniya about three months before she realized that there is no TV white noise in our household.

In winter, the snow definitely brought the kids together. When the first bountiful snow came, sledding in the backyard was on the menu and then the snow blower and shoveling. How a 10th grader would mingle with elementary school kids was my concern. I forgot that the 10th grader is a kid and with all that is happening in our house, it was like letting her loose in the candy store!

Our time with her has been amazingly fun. This host family experience will go down as one of the most wonderful memories for myself, my kids, and I bet, for Saniya as well.

Nudrat's family playing in the snow

Want to create amazing new memories by welcoming an exchange student like Saniya into your family? Head over to “meet” the AFS international students coming to your area this fall!