So, let’s talk about re-hosting. In so many ways, it’s easier than hosting for the first time.
(wearing matching shirts that say me + family = awesome. yes, i did buy them the same shirt, but matching is all their thing.)
- She was totally comfortable with us again in a matter of hours, not days.
- She already knew our routine and house rules pretty well, so we’ve had virtually no conflicts.
- She already trusts us and respects us.
- She knows a fair bit of English and knows how to ask for translation help.
All in all, things are going pretty smoothly. We did have one major rule change from summer hosting, which is that I’m not allowing her time on (her own) social media. I’ve had mixed feelings about this, knowing what an addict to social media I am myself AND knowing how bored and lonely she must feel being in a country where she doesn’t have people who speak her language or many friends her own age. However, she’s taken it pretty well and I have a couple of ideas on how to keep her connected to kids her age who speak her language without giving her internet freedom.
One is that she has a cousin who was adopted to the US over the summer and the girls skyped today. I think we will have to do that again, as I think both of them enjoyed the chance to catch up. Big L loved telling me about what they talked about and I think it was good for her to see a child who was adopted and is thriving, especially one she knows so well.
We also skyped with a translator and language teacher today. She is from Big L’s country. I wanted her to just chat with Big L and sort of “check in” with her. I told the translator to just take her time and befriend Big L and when it was my turn to talk with her, I learned a bit about Big L that I didn’t already know and got some more details on her life. It was nice to hear these things pretty much straight from Big L, with our wonderful translator’s help. We are going to keep this up throughout her visit, doing some language learning and some chatting with the translator.
Once Big L was done and I was filled in on the details, the translator also taught me some of Big L’s preferred language. This is a different language than Russian, which is what we learned for our trips to Ukraine and Russia. It’s similar, but challenging in its own ways. I don’t expect to master it and I probably won’t ever become conversational, but for Big L, it’s a really solid way for her to see that I’m meeting her in the middle. The translator/teacher is also giving me “homework”, so Big L can help me practice. It gives her a chance to be my teacher.
After such a busy day, we had a really fun evening. Big L LOVES teaching us the many languages that she speaks. She constantly praises me as her excellent student and constantly picks on Aaron as her awful one. Poor guy. We love to tease him, but he certainly does try. We’re encouraging the kids to try some Russian phrases as well, at least please and thank you. It’s a lot of fun to do this as a family. Lots and lots of laughing together as we try to repeat the words of our teacher, Big L. For host parents, I think being willing to try your host child’s language and make mistakes doing it gives them a lot of inspiration to try some English.
All in all, things are great. She is helpful and kind and funny. An all around great kid. We love having her here.