by Mikel Quintana
During my two experiences living with host-families, first in Ecuador, and then in Spain, I have had amazing luck with my host-families, making my experiences living abroad not only something that helped me develop as a person, but also the opportunity to make life-long relationships with truly extraordinary people.
In Spain, my host-family was beyond generous and hospitable, introducing me to extended family and friends throughout my 9 months, especially during family visits to Sevilla. Throughout the 9 months I made long-lasting relationships that formed my time in Spain and continue to impact my life.
In both my experiences living with a host-family I have been able to introduce my real family to my host-families, creating a bond not only between me and my host-family but between my family and my host-families. With my host-family in Spain, this has provided a great opportunity for my 14 year old brother Andres, and my nearly 14 year old host-brother, also named Andres.
The summer following my time in Spain, my host brother came to the US to spend his summer practicing English with my brother. Both Andres’ had a great experience, and this summer this unique exchange continues. For the first half of the summer, Spanish Andres will return to the US, and will fly back to Spain accompanied by my brother, who will spend the second half of the summer with my host-family during their summer vacations. This experience allows my brother to improve his Spanish, my host-brother to improve his English, all in a culturally immersive experience between two families who have come to know and trust each other with their 14 year old sons.
This amazing experience, which most 14 year old’s do not have, is product of my host families adventure in being a host-family, in the relationship that this has caused my family and my host-family to have, and the luck of having two 14 year old boys who both have something to gain from this experience, and who have both made an international friend in the meanwhile. For me, this exchange between my brothers provides a sense of both jealousy and excitement for my brothers. It is amazing that a program like 1+4 has not only provided me with a formative experience but has also given way to a live-forming opportunity for both my family and my host-family.