Hosted 21 students from around the world, including Yemen
Paul and Lolly Scannell have been a host family for Youth For Understanding for more than 20 years. In that time, their family has hosted 21 students from all over the world. The Scannell’s current host son is Abdulla from Yemen, who is a part of a YES program that was launched to build bridges of understanding between the United States and countries of the Arab and Muslim world.
Can you share some of the best memories and unexpected surprises from your hosting experience?
“All our host children have been a pleasure to have— we have so many fond memories and funny stories to share. Last year our student from Germany created a CD with pictures and music documenting his exchange experience from preparation back home to good-byes in the U.S. This project obviously took a lot of time and energy to complete, and it made us feel special to see what a difference we made in this young person’s life. It is very rewarding to see how students grow up and mature during this experience. We hear a lot of “Thank You’s” from their natural families for all the love, support and help we’ve given, for being a real family to students and treating them as our own children.”
“One of the unexpected surprises: seven of our former host students traveled to the U.S. from all over the world to throw a surprise party for us. It was great having them back! Some stayed for a couple of months and we had a fun time.”
“With hosting, you actually get to do so many things that you would not ordinarily do. Just a couple of weeks ago we went to New York, and we are taking Abdulla and will be meeting other exchange students from Sweden and France in the Bahamas for our son’s wedding in a couple of months.”
What advice would you give to all host families?
“Enjoy every minute and every opportunity of this experience. Treat the students as you would treat your own children; they are not tourists, they need love, support and guidance. Each student is different, with a unique personality, and they are teenagers—so be patient and understanding. Hosting is a wonderful experience. Have fun and learn all you can from it.”
Would you like to share your YFU Story? Please submit stories and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.