By Mohamed Toma (YES 2018–2019, Kuwait, placed by World Link in Castle Rock, CO)
When I first landed in Colorado, my host family greeted me with a big sign that spelled out in colorful letters, "Welcome to Colorado." I immediately felt happy since it was the first time someone ever greeted me so openly and affectionately! My host parents were the best. They were super fun and they treated me like an adult. At first, it felt a little weird making new friends at school. Although some people might think that being the kid from a different country would be a burden, I was proud to stand out from the crowd. I always loved when others asked me about where I was from and then we would start to have conversations about Kuwait.
Although I was never actually asked to do chores in my host home, I always volunteered to help. During the winter, Colorado would get heavy snowfalls. Even though I didn’t really like the cold weather, I loved the feeling of relief when I helped clear the driveway. Doing my own laundry was also a new experience, since in Kuwait my mother has someone to help complete our household chores. My host mother taught me how to use the washing machine and dryer, and since that day I do my own laundry. I also learned the hard way to make sure to separate clothing by color— especially if they’re new—and to never iron polyester.
Colorado is a beautiful state, and I am lucky to have been placed there. I must admit, however, that adjusting to the cold was slightly difficult for me, and it took me some time to get out of the house and do outdoor activities with my American friends. Despite the adjustment process, it was well worth the effort since I now have lifelong bonds with lots of people from my host community. It was also very new for me to spend time with my friends after school, as I was always used to going home directly after school to study in Kuwait. However, these extracurricular activities in the United States helped me become much more social and meet new friends.
I had lots of great memories with my host family. We traveled a lot and we went on road trips together. Thanks to them, I think I visited over 20 states during my one year in the United States. At home, I would do fun activities like science experiments or play with cars with my two host brothers, Alex and Max. I still am in contact with my host family and hope to see them very soon. The best advice I can give to forming a positive relationship with your host family is to be yourself. As humans, we love to learn and make meaningful connections, so get out of your comfort zone and live a little!