Jeff & Leslie Thom – Host Family – California

Hosted several students including Lukas from Germany

“Unexpectedly Great…”

Thom FamilyWhen 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.

Would you like to share your YFU Story? Please submit stories and pictures to marketing@yfu.org.

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About Youth For Understanding USA

Youth For Understanding (YFU) advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities. The global YFU network, consisting of partners in more than 60 different countries, is united by the belief that full cultural immersion is the most effective means to gain the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly multicultural, interconnected and competitive global society. YFU has remained a trusted leader of intercultural exchange programs for more than 60 years because of its commitment to safety, reputation for quality, and exceptional support services. Backed by a global team of volunteers, YFU provides cultural education and guidance to all participants. Selected to administer more government and corporate scholarships than any other high school exchange program, YFU is the only organization awarded full-listing for J-1 inbound, outbound and short term exchange by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET). Through creating global learning opportunities, YFU has promoted international understanding and world peace to more than 250,000 students and their host families. Thousands of parents across the globe trust YFU with their teenagers every year, and thousands of students every year choose YFU to help them discover their inner selves.
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