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Our BIG News

We are going to be PARENTS!
Before you spit wine or coffee on your computer, let me explain...

Just before we left for Italy, I saw an ad on Facebook for a company (EFF, Education First Foundation) seeking “host families” for foreign exchange students. I thought to myself, “That would be fun to have a student from Italy for a year.” On one of our last days in Le Marche, I brought up the topic to Brad. I was a little doubtful, that he would want to do this at our age, and with the freedom to travel we usually have during the year. Much to my surprise, he said yes, and we discussed it in detail over wine in a piazza.

On June 15, I contacted the company. My hesitation was that we are committed to a three-week trip to Rome with friends at Christmas. EFF assured us that this was not a problem. We began filling out 12 pages of applications, a criminal background check, submitting photos of our house, home visit, interviews, references, etc. We were able to read all the bios and letters/applications of prospective students. (we ONLY wanted an Italian kid).

We chose FEDERICO, a 16 (he’ll be 17 at the end of July) y.o. boy from Pescara, in Abruzzo. He wrote the sweetest letter about himself, his family, his rules and responsibilities at home, and why he wants to study in America. After all of our paperwork was completed (2 weeks ago when the Palm Desert High School principal signed his enrollment forms for school), they contacted his family in Italy that he had a host family. Then we were able to email him, introduce ourselves, and have been emailing since. He calls us "Mom Palma" and "BradDad". My FAVORITE comment has been: “Dear Mom Palma, I haven’t met you yet, but I already love you.” (Can you see an American teen saying that?) After the first email, his parents invited us to visit them in Pescara next summer. SO ITALIAN!

He flies from Rome to Boston on July 24 to attend an EFF “Culture Orientation Camp” in Vermont, then arrives in Palm Springs on August 4!!! We are SO EXCITED!

The company has been great to work with. There is a local coordinator in Palm Springs (who is also hosting a student from Germany). Federico will stay with her for the holidays, OR his parents may decide to send him a plane ticket to Italy, and he can travel with us and we will get him to Pescara for Christmas, then fly home together.
There are 5 students who are in families in the desert. They have some activities for all the students during the year (a beach camping trip, ski trip, and an Angels baseball game.) They have very strict rules for the students about grades, no alcohol/drugs, must have reasonable chores/responsibilities and we are just required to feed them and house them. Everything else comes out of the spending money their family deposits monthly into an ATM account.

We’ve been making plans for weekend trips to San Diego, San Francisco, an Air Force football game, big Thanksgiving, etc.

We have turned our "too girly" guest room into a teen boy’s room. Brad has stripped an old desk from the garage, so I am sanding and painting this week. The only major challenge was for me to make room in my closet for ALL of Brad's clothes, as their former home was the guest room closet. 8 garbage bags full went to charity last week, and Brad can now get dressed in the master bedroom! It was a PROJECT!

I am not allowed to put any photos on the internet until he is HERE, but he is GORGEOUS. There will be girls lined up down the street. He doesn’t know that I speak or understand any Italian. I am saving that as a surprise. He is here to practice English, but I think it will be comforting that if he doesn’t know words, I can explain stuff to him in Italian. He also doesn’t know I can COOK Italian. LOL

We are counting the days (19) until his arrival. His lovely mother says he is "her precious jewel". We hope to be good host parents, we have the list of rules ready, and lots of fun planned. Wish us luck!

Comments (18)

Lucky, lucky Federico! And lucky, lucky Palma and Brad!

What a whirlwind of decision making and preparations. Of course, if anyone can plan and organize this so quickly, it is you!


I just popped over to see if you had posted anything about your new "son". I can't wait to see how your year with him develops. I know this is going to be an incredible experience! Gorgeous is an understatement. That kid looks like he belongs on a magazine cover.

I can't believe you managed to make room for Brad's clothes:).


How exciting...Growing up we hosted a teen from Germany. It was family love at first site. This was around 27 years ago. From that time he would visit every other year. He truly became a part of our family. My brothers and I are in contact with him through email and skype all throughout the year. I actually call him my brother. Some of my family have been to Germany, where he has played host to our/his family. He was truly a gift to us. And, Palma, if you have any questions about teenage boys, well, I have raised 2, and I grew up with 6 brothers(big italian/catholic family),don't hesistate to ask...Also my one of my sons is fluent in Italian, as he studied in Rome for 5 years. And, if you would like to come to Houston Texas, my mothers still lives in her 7 bedroom house and we could play host to you and your family.


Federico is one very lucky person!! I think you all are in for an incredible year, one that will enrich your lives in ways you never expected. Congratulations, what a wonderful opportunity for all of you! I truly look forward to reading more about his year with you both...and Luigi!

Colleen Kochman:

So exciting! I am sure it will be a mutually wonderful experience.
Your preparing for him is so sweet! Sort of new parent "nesting" It will be fun to read about how the year goes for all of you.
Best of luck to you!


WOW! What awesome, fabulous news! Lucky you and lucky Federico! So happy for you and Brad.

Congratulations! How exciting is that. Sounds like a win/win situation for you/Brad and Frederico.

You'll have a great time.

How exciting for you and Brad! And Luigi will be over the moon when he realizes he has a "brother" to play with!

I look forward to reading about your experiences as parents.


The opportunity of a lifetime, for both of you and Frederico, too. Win/win! Happy for you both.


Well, that certainly is big news - parenting a teenager will be quite the adventure. This will certainly give you something to write about too.

Nancy Laneri:

I'm so excited for all of you. This will be the beginning of a long relationship with this young man. My daughter did a semester in Paris while in college and lived with a French family, a very special French family. What wonderful memories she has of those 5 months. You will have so much fun!



I am so excited for you & Brad. It is such an awesome experience - for the parents and the students. We loved all 5 of our exchange students. Each spent 10 months with us. Can't wait to follow your adventure.

Nina Sgriccia:

Congratulations, As many have said this will be the start of a wonderful relationship that will be long lasting. Our dear friends who also did not have their own children have retained a loving relationship with their exchange students. They are now even grandparents called grandma and grandpa! Have fun!

Denise Curtis:

How exciting and wonderful for all of you! You will build memories for a lifetime! Most foreign exchange students gain weight in America for various reasons. Federico won't have a chance with Mom Palma being such a fabulous cook! Enjoy!


How cool! I'll bet Frederico will have a blast - and so will you and Brad!

Mindy Smith:

Fantastic news! I admire you both.....I'm sure you'll have great stories to share. I hope he doesn't gain weight! LOL.


So excited for you!! We had a German exchange student several years ago and tho' it didn't work out as well as we had hoped, it was still a terrific experience.

Barb Cabot:

Mama Palma and Brad dad, this young man is very very fortunate. I think this will be a very fulfilling experience for all of you. I'm happy for you Palma, Che fortunata per tutti!

I can't wait for the stories to be told.

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