Kinlee Stewart (right) poses with  current exchange student Inez (middle)

Adding to the Family Seven Years and Counting

By: Morgan Haba

The Stewarts have been hosting foreign exchange students for the past seven years. Over the years, they have hosted Tobi (Czech Republic), Berta (Spain), Pavla (Czech Republic), Gaia (Italy), and Nastassja (Germany). This year they are hosting Inés Barrajón-Rodrigo (Spain) and Lera Vinokurova (Russia). They choose to host every year because it provides a fun way of learning about different cultures and countries around the world.

“We continue to host because we want to make the opportunities to study abroad available to everyone. That’s why my mom, Gina, took the job,” said sophomore Kinlee.

The main goal of Student American International, according to their website, is to promote the idea that we can all help make the world a more peaceful place by recognizing the different cultures and trying to celebrate and understand them. It’s an efficient way to squash racial, religious and cultural stereotypes.

“It’s fun to teach them about the US and learn about where they came from,” said Gina.

The Stewart family collectively agrees that the best part about hosting is that they are able to create friendships while learning about each other. They’ve found they get to experience things they have never tried, or even heard of, before. The family does this by taking their foreign exchange students to different locations around the United States. 

So far this year, their family has traveled with their exchange students to Johnson’s Lake where they spent the weekend camping and swimming. On Labor Day weekend, they wandered to South Dakota for sightseeing. At the end of the school year, Kinlee and her family will be traveling with Inés back to Spain. There she will get to learn about how Inés lives her life in her home country. Although they are excited to go to Spain, saying goodbye is hard.

“They [exchange students] become just like one of your kids. You build a relationship to last a lifetime,” said Gina.