An International Experience Right In Their Home
Posted 09/21/2016 10:15AM
By David Sun
AACS Class of 2017
For years now our Upper School campus has welcomed a few international students each school year. In 2014, the AACS Board of Directors made the decision to formalize the program and since then the program has grown and improved. In the third year of our international program, we now have 18 international students, a program director, and a full-time ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. The 15 AACS families who are now serving as host families have been a key reason this program has been a success.
Our Academic Dean Mr. Wiley and his family have been a host family since 2013. He says "being a host family has expanded our world vision. You learn more about a nation/region when you know someone who lives there. Not that we know all about China just from knowing four students, but we probably know four times as much as we did before."
In Matthew 28: 18-20, Jesus gave us the specific command to "go and make disciples of all nations." Mr. Kempton, AACS Superintendent says "As Christians we are called by God to make an impact on culture and society. We cannot do this without cross-cultural understanding. We must be able to look outside of ourselves and be aware of the cultural beliefs, values, and customs of any culture we hope to teach and influence. To influence, you must first understand."
AACS Associate Director of Upper School Admissions, Mary Jane Murphy, and her family opened their home to a new international student this fall. She said "I would recommend our AACS families to be involved with our international program by being a host family because it would enrich their lives, enlarge their heart (and family), and give them a greater picture of others around the world. Life is so much richer when we share it with others!!"
When asked why his family opened their home to international students, Mr. Wiley answered "When we open our homes and hearts to strangers, both we and they are blessed. Jesus came as a stranger from afar, and He calls us to practice hospitality. Also, these students are doing something incredibly brave by traveling to the other side of the world to do high school in a second language. It is a privilege to help make it a little easier for them."
The Baden family opened their home to one of our international students at the end of the last school year. They so enjoyed having their "Chinese Son" Zihan as a part of their family that they invited him back to their home for the whole school year. Mrs. Baden has enjoyed showing Zihan the sites from the beach, to Baltimore, and more.
Our international student Bella Choi, who is currently living with Mr. Wiley, says that before she arrived in the United States she could not even imagine what living here with a completely new family would be like. "But ever since I moved in with Wiley's" Bella said, "I have felt so welcomed that it is just like another family for me. They have thrown a surprise party for me, we've gone on a family road trip, and I enjoy just relaxing on the sofa with them and laughing at the TV show."
As for our international students, our vision is that they receive a great education in a Christ-centered culture, that they come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that they grow in their faith during their time at AACS and college years, and return back to their home country to spread the Gospel. Many of the students who come to our country for education go back to their own country into positions of great influence. Going back with a greater understanding and impression of Christianity is also a success for the program and the Kingdom.
We are currently looking for families who are willing to partner with the school in this mission by providing a home for an international student and serving as their host family. If you're interested in learning more about becoming a host family for one of these students, please email Bethany Thornton at firstname.lastname@example.org