“I discovered what a great parent I can be
and this has motivated me to adopt a child.”

–Damian Pisanelli

Damian Pisanelli and Alex from Germany

Fifteen years after my AFS Exchange in Sweden, I decided to reconnect by volunteering. It seemed all I did was work and I felt there had to be more to life. Within days of connecting with AFS locally, I found myself at the Seattle–Tacoma airport with my first assignment — to welcome exchange students from Thailand and Ecuador. I had already had a life-changing experience as a student abroad; little did I know that the biggest changes would happen right here at home.

As an AFS Volunteer, I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to build my skills and expand my world — like being a team leader on a six-week program in Ghana with three teenage boys and twenty-seven teenage girls! It wasn’t until my partner and I decided to host exchange students that I truly realized how much I had to give and gain.

Through the years, I’ve hosted students from Germany, France, Finland, and other countries. Each experience has been different and not without its challenges, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Through hosting, I learned that while every student is unique, I could be the kind of mentor and role model that would help each to have the best possible exchange in the US. Most significantly, I discovered what a great parent I can be and this has motivated me to adopt a child. As my host son, Alex, has said to me, “You’ll never be good at calculus, but you’ll make a great dad.”