Cultural exchange entered their lives two years ago. Kelly Kuykendall heard about the opportunity through social media; her friend Malysa Johnson happened to work for Greenheart as a local coordinator. After weighing the pros and cons of hosting with her husband John and her two children (Justin and Kimberly), they figured it might be worth a shot!

Their hosting experience started in 2016 with two girls (Anne and Yuiko), who were part of a group of 16 students from Japan. Kelly did many activities either with the group or as a family, which gave her a chance to take more time to do simple things that she often takes for granted. These three weeks convinced her to renew the experience the following year!

When she decided to host again and renew, she felt more prepared. She had a better notion of the time frame for her future students. Her family decided they were all going to try to take some time off from work during the time the students were with them so they could be even more involved. They chose to host two Japanese boys, Ren and Shintaro.

The matching process went better the second year because they took more time to look for common interests between Greenheart’s participants and their family, but also common interests between the two students.

When we asked Kelly why she would recommend this experience, here was her answer: “We have had so much fun each year with our boys and girls. We learned so much about their culture and had a good time teaching them about ours. I know we as a family are very involved with the group activities but any family can be as involved as they want to and are able to. The kids have great experiences when they come here and we had just as much fun as the kids did. I learned I had experiences and knowledge to share with eager and excited young people who felt honored to be a part of this program. I learned that I was just as excited to learn about their culture as they were to learn about ours. We became their family and they became a part of ours. We would welcome any of them back to our home at any time they want to visit us and we have been invited to visit them as well”.

Learn more about hosting with Greenheart Exchange!