Hosted several students including Lukas from Germany
When Lukas, a YFU German exchange student, was initially informed that his American host parents were totally blind, he wasn’t quite sure what to expect. His initial reaction was how can a blind couple function, be self sufficient and independent? But he kept an open mind and prepared himself for a new adventure.
It wasn’t long before the Thoms welcomed Lukas into their home. Jeff Thom, an attorney with the State of California, and his wife Leslie, a food services worker, are residents of Sacramento. The Thoms have a sixteen-year-old daughter Andi (who also has a visual impairment) and a guide dog named Harry.
The Thoms had previously hosted a number of international teenagers, but Lukas is their first male student. They enjoy hosting because they find it fascinating to meet people from other cultures, and it has a positive influence on their daughter Andi – exposing her to different ideas and people from around the world. The Thoms face typical challenges that most host families encounter: personality clashes, enforcing house rules, communication, and coaxing shy students to be more outgoing.
Lukas says that his experience at the Thom household was “unexpectedly great…,” and doesn’t feel that he missed out on anything. He has learned to use the public transportation system in Sacramento and can get anywhere he needs to go in the city. He has also learned to plan ahead for his activities. His favorite experiences in America include a trip to Death Valley, a visit to San Francisco, and having the opportunity to make so many American friends.
When asked what advice he would share with future students who will live in a household with a disabled parent or parents, Lukas recommends having a positive attitude and keeping an open mind.
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