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!