In this testimonial, David and Nancy Frye share a bit about their experiences hosting 13 exchange students since 1999. The Frye family is currently hosting Nadhira from Indonesia. Read on to learn about how they started their most recent hosting journey, as well as the enrichment hosting has brought to their lives over the years!

In our area of Tennessee, it’s late summer. School has started. It’s another typical day in our family. Our family consists of Papa (me – 62), Mama (my wife – 62), PawPaw (my son-in-law’s father – 53) in one house. A few houses down we also have Lennon (our granddaughter – 6), Jodi (my daughter – 34), and Josh (my son-in-law, 32). As you can see, our house is not a typical household.

Group of women and child posing outside in front of palm trees.

My wife and I are both from very large families. We both go to work during the week, church on Sunday, Lennon stays with us 2-3 nights a week, and we go to California a couple times a year to see our son and his family.

Our history with AFS includes 12 previous students, none very recent. This year we were not thinking about students as has been the case for several years. But AFS National called me out of the blue (or so I thought). When they asked, I said to just send me information. Little did I know, my wife had a conversation just a little earlier with one of our previous students (from 14 years ago) where she told her that our students and grandkids are her happy place. On the other side of world in Indonesia: a 16-year-old girl watched as prayers of being an exchange student were fading. With only a little more than a day left before the door would be closed, she got the call that we were her USA family. Her prayers answered!

Since that time, she’s had trips to California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Alabama. She is a very loving daughter who is more than willing to plug in where possible. She shares her love and encourages others. She is a grateful participant in every setting. She is someone who will fix dinner at the drop of a hat, play chase or hide and seek with a 6-year-old, watch TV with a 62-year-old, or go to the movies with [the whole family]. She is open for the whole experience, all while being on the yearbook team, going to different events at school, and even going to church with the family.

Going back to our [first] experience with the program, it was all foreign to us and we didn’t know anything about it. We were asked if we would host a student already here, but we said no twice. Then we learned that kids are vetted by AFS, and the unknown was not that scary anymore. On the third try, we said yes to our [first] student in 1999. Well, we said yes only to moving his clothes in, because by then he was already at our house with our son all the time anyway.

I think the thing that makes it work on our side is that we open ourselves to receive another son or daughter. In this, our church, school, family and community has a chance to see that everyone is not the same and that [this] isn’t bad – it just adds some flavor to your world. Interpretation of differences can be seen in so many ways, it’s all perspective. Think about it like traveling right inside your own home: a family trip at the dinner table. And it goes both ways! Your student gets to experience your [points of view] as well.

If you’re interested in hosting an exchange student, get started by filling out this short form!