Hosted 36 students from around the world
Ten Questions for the Boley Family
Sue and Frank Boley of Marshall, Michigan have been hosting exchange students since 1982. They have welcomed students from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Estonia, Japan, Thailand, China, and Brazil. YFU USA took time to catch up with this incredible family to ask about their extraordinary journey which continues to this day…
What prompted you to begin hosting?
Coincidentally, we both (separately) read a newspaper article on exchange students. We ended up having a conversation about it, made a phone call to YFU, and took that first step. It ended up encouraging our children, Kristy (age 5) and Jon (age 12) to become “siblings to the world.” Both are now grown and married, and Jon actually met his wife, who is from China, while he was living in Finland.
You’ve hosted thirty-six students and are welcoming two more this year. What drives you to continue to host?
We love getting to know the kids and their families. They grow so much as the school year progresses, and it’s fulfilling to see them mature and learn about themselves as well as their home countries.
How do you introduce your students to the community?
Once the students arrive, we take them everywhere we go and introduce them to everyone we know. If we have a musical student, we introduce them to the music teachers at school and church; if we have an athletic student, we introduce them to the coaches. We also take them to local service clubs, middle schools, and elementary schools and have them do presentations on their home countries.
Does anyone in your family now speak a foreign language?
Having attended a three week seminar, we now speak a smattering of Finnish. Our daughter-in-law and son have 2 girls who are trilingual; they speak Chinese, English and Spanish.
Have you traveled to visit former host students?
Yes! We travel about every other summer to visit past students. We’ve visited Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, and Russia.
What American activities/sports/clubs have your students excelled at in the past?
Our kids have participated in quite a few activities – swimming, soccer, band, orchestra, and the favorite American pastime of shopping.
Has your family diet changed at all because of students?
We do try to keep a healthy diet which includes lots of Asian dishes.
How have exchange students influenced you and your children?
At age fifteen, our daughter Kristy traveled to Finland to visit her Finnish brothers and sisters. Our son Jon has married a Chinese woman whom he met while studying in Finland. They subsequently studied together in London.
How often do you stay in touch with former students?
We are still in touch with most of our past students via email and holiday cards.
If a family is “on the fence” about hosting, what advice would you share with them?
If a family is on a fence about hosting, we suggest that they try it for a short time as an arrival, just to see if it works for them. Most of the students are good kids and everyone learns a lot from each other. As the kids grow up the rewards are great, and if we don’t take risks we don’t grow.
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