What do our students do when they are not in class, doing internships, volunteer work, or at campus events? Of course they spend much time at home doing homework and studying, but they also go to parties and on short trips with host families, do sports at local athletic fields, shop and tour around the city with friends, watch baseball games and movies and do all sorts of other activities, gaining valuable knowledge outside of the classroom.
As a first outing with their host family, many students visit the famous Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April, where the vast fields of red, white, yellow and purple flowers seem to paint a rainbow across the earth.
Each week, or twice a month many students attend the church-sponsored Talk Time, where they play games, sing songs, and enjoy talking freely with other young people.
When we have a three-day holiday weekend, some students travel to the nearest other major cities – Vancouver, Canada and Portland, Oregon. Other students stay in the Seattle area and visit the various festivals for each holiday.
Each host family has its own unique lifestyle, customs, way of thinking, family structure, architectural style, etc., so the advisors caution students not to compare families over trivial matters. (On the other hand, making objective comparisons among different families is a good way to study American society.) At school we can hear some students share experiences like, “I went to Canada with my host family!”, “Over the holiday weekend my host family took me with them to visit relatives in California…”, “I stayed with my family in their mountain cabin…”, while other students may say “My host and I don’t go many places together, but she helps me with my homework and teaches me a lot in everyday activities.” And of course there are some students and families who must put more mutual effort into adjusting to one another’s schedules and personalities.