My Hosting Experience
by Char Whidbee
WOW – it’s March already, and the end of this school year is fast approaching. I’m finishing my second year of hosting girls at La Jolla Country Day School: Vivian Zhang, a senior (her second year with me) and Joy Lin, a Junior. Although the girls have their own distinct personalities, unrelated interests and different school activities associated with their grade levels, both are easy going, accommodating, and have been a true pleasure to host. Despite all their obligations with school work, sports, college prep, clubs, community service, school and social events, we’ve enjoyed some quality times together. Looking back on it I realize the majority of our group activities have involved some form of food, from baking for school bake sales, teaching them to make sushi, going out to In and Out Burger or cooking authentic Chinese dishes to celebrate their holidays, we’ve covered a lot of culinary ground. Last year Vivian and I even went strawberry picking and she canned strawberry jam to take home to her family.
Some of my favorite times spent with the girls revolve around the holidays. Although the students know about our holiday traditions, in most cases they haven’t had an opportunity to actually experience them, so part of their education with me has included hands-on activities that American children grow up doing. We’ve carved pumpkins for Halloween, baked and decorated gingerbread men and sugar cookies at Christmas, Joy made heart cookies for friends for Valentine’s Day, and this year the girls prepared most of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner themselves. Soon we’ll be coloring eggs for Easter, planning another big holiday meal, and looking forward to a visit from you-know-who (hint: the furry guy with long ears and a bushy tail.)
In addition to the girls I host, I’ve interacted with a number of the other IEM students in the last two years, attended their concerts and sporting events, celebrated their amazing accomplishments, had them over for a meal or two. And while I know I’m just a small part of this incredible journey they’re on, each and every one of them hold a special place in my heart. To this year’s graduating seniors whose paths have crossed mine, I’ll say goodbye with a heavy heart, wishing you all the best in your future endeavors, and thanks for the memories!