From the first step into the Kansas City International Airport at the beginning of the school year to the last step during summer, the foreign exchange students spend a year away from everything they’ve ever known.
Matilda Henttenon, a former foreign exchange student, wasn’t aware that these next 334 days were about to give her new life long friendships and a second family here in the US, the Parr family. From the moment they met, they all knew that this was going to be a very interesting year for them all.
“Matilda just fit right in with me and all of my friends. She had the same sense of humor as me and we had similar personalities, overall it was a really fun experience.” explains Rylie Parr, senior, “We took her around and did all the local things and hung out, did a lot of family things together, she’s like a sister and my best friend.”
But before she could even start packing for the US, Matilda had some tough decisions to make.
“There’s a process for them to get to come over here and it’s actually a pretty long process, I’d say it takes at least a year. There’s a lot of applications they have to go through and interviews and there’s a cost, it’s a pretty significant cost to come over here, but I think there are some scholarships they can apply for,” said Jeniffer Robbinson, counselor.
During her year abroad, Matilda found herself creating more memories, having many memorable experiences and a new family.
“It was nerve-wracking at first because I was super scared we wouldn’t match but at the end, it was the most wonderful thing ever; I’m now proud to call them my American family & I love & miss them so much,” said Matilda Henttenon, former foreign exchange student.
During this year, both the host family and the exchange student grow in more ways than one.
“I definitely grew a lot,” said Parr, “I became a lot more globally aware it really taught me that there are more ways to do things in life even just your simple everyday things like waking up and your morning routine and it just kinda showed me that even the things that we think are super simple and every day it could be completely different for someone else, so just be considerate when you’re in new situations.”