John Hall with his family and MVC students, from left: Dianne Hall, Jacob Hall, Sanae Homma. John Hall, Nina Wu, and Kanako Aso.
Story by Aki Nagasaka
It is not easy to adapt to life in America if you are from a different country and have a totally different culture. Missouri Valley College tag teamed with members of the Smith Chapel United Methodist Church to revive a host family program, Adopt-A-Viking, for international students who feel difficulties living far away from their home county.
John Hall, one of the church members, came up with this host family program from his personal experience with several international students. “My wife and I have been hosting different college kids from MoVal for five years. And we saw huge needs from them. We are just trying to bridge the gap,” Hall said.
Teaching them how to drive, going to and from Wal-mart, even sharing American cultures, are always a big help for international students. The members of the Adopt-A-Viking committee conducted different interviews and background checks to select families.
Heath Morgan, MVC Student Dean and one of the committee members, said, there are some blank spaces to fill out attributes of those families and what they like in the application. “We are trying to match family with an attribute of students and what they are looking for,” Morgan said.
This past summer, some of the students already appreciated this new program. Nina Wu, MVC Public Relation senior, used this program and could stay with one of the host families during the summer break. “I had good food and good time, and I learned a lot of American culture and I hang out with my host families. So it’s just really cool,” Nina said.
Hall said that the biggest effect is to be able to see what the American lifestyle is. He added that host families are truly able to give international students help through their college career.
MVC Sociology junior Kanako Aso also used this Adopt-A-Viking program during the summer. She talked about another big benefit of using the host family program. “After summer vacation, everyone told me ‘your English is so much better than last semester,’ so I think the host family helped me a lot to improve my English,” Kanako said.
There are a lot of merits for students. However, it can be hard to adapt to living with host families. Because they are from different countries and cultures, there are always some difficulties that they have to face. Kanako said, “Because they let me stay with them with no cost, I always felt that I have to do something for them as my gratitude. I’m still a Japanese. I was worried about it in a Japanese way. Those type of things weighed on me a bit.”
Even if there is a huge gap between cultures, sharing the daily life with a family while away from home might be a way to bridge the gap of living in a foreign country.