How Hosting Japanese Students Benefits Your Family

Hello! This is HelloWorld Host team. We interviewed with our most experienced family about our program and today we are happy to post a blog from a Heartfelt Interview!

What is the Machinaka Cultural Exchange Program?

The Machinaka Cultural Exchange Program offers a unique study abroad experience where participants visit host families in Japan and engage in activities like cooking, playing games, and more.

Many Japanese students are eager to learn languages and explore different cultures.

With nearly 100 host families from over 50 countries, they not only welcome these students but also get the chance to learn about Japanese culture by hosting Japanese guests.
Please find more details here.

A Year of International Connections in Japan

Step into the enchanting world of the Cardenas family, one of our most experienced host families.
Located in the beautiful setting of Okinawa, this extraordinary family has been an integral part of our international student exchange program for over a year.

With a warm and inviting home, Leila and Claudio, the caring host parents and, their vibrant daughter, Zoe, have embraced more than 50 students from all corners of Japan.

Join us as we dive into their remarkable journey and uncover the joys they have discovered through their involvement in our program.

Our daughter’s joy sparked the decision to continue the homestay!

-Why did you decide to join our program?

Our decision to join the program was driven by a desire to embark on an exciting adventure while providing a nurturing environment for Zoe. It was an opportunity to share our daily lives with students from diverse backgrounds and cultures, all while receiving an activity budget to afford the expenses.

Little did I know that this experience would have such a profound impact on Zoe, Claudio and me. After our initial participation, seeing Zoe light up with joy and connect with her “sisters” from Japan made me realize that we had stumbled upon something truly special.

The students and our daughter connected as if they were sisters

-What aspects of the program do you cherish the most?

Oh, there are so many things we cherish about the program! Firstly, watching Zoe bond with her “sisters” over different activities is an absolute delight. Our collection of games has grown over time, and each one brings a new wave of laughter and friendly competition to our household.

It’s heartwarming to witness the genuine connections formed during these lighthearted moments.

Secondly, the opportunity for Zoe to learn from her “older sisters” has been invaluable. Despite her tender age, she absorbs new cultural insights while engaging in fun activities with our students.

It’s like having a classroom filled with playful teachers who impart their knowledge through friendship and shared experiences.

Even in a short homestay, bonds can deepen.

-Can you share a memorable moment or a touching experience from hosting?

Certainly! One of the most touching aspects is witnessing Zoe’s emotional attachment to the students. During farewell ceremonies, there have been instances where she sheds a few tears, overwhelmed with the depth of the connections formed. It’s a testament to the genuine bonds that blossom through this program.

These farewell moments, though bittersweet, serve as a reminder of the impact we have on each other’s lives.

Furthermore, we consider our student guests as part of our extended family. When we have birthday parties or special events, we happily invite them along, ensuring they feel loved and included.

Sharing these cherished moments with them strengthens our bond and creates memories that will last a lifetime.

Hosting is not as difficult as you may think!

-What advice would you give to the families that are hesitant to participate in the program?

To families who may have reservations about joining the program, I would encourage you to take that leap of faith. It’s natural to have concerns about what activities to do with the students or how to navigate the language barrier.

However, I assure you that simply sharing your daily routines and activities that your own family enjoys is more than enough.

For example, we love cooking together, so it has become a wonderful shared activity with our student guests. Lately, my daughter Zoe has developed a fascination with making and playing with slime, and we’ve even been able to share this creative pastime with our students.

Additionally, I believe this program is especially ideal for families with only one child. For Zoe, it’s like having new, older sisters every weekend. The bonds she has formed and the experiences she has gained are priceless. It has expanded her horizons and nurtured her understanding of different cultures at such a young age.

Lastly, I want to emphasize that hosting students is not just a passing activity. Over the course of hosting more than 50 students and participating in the program for over a year, we have consistently had positive and enriching experiences. The connections we have forged with these young individuals from all over Japan have left a lasting impact on our lives.

The Cardenas family’s journey within our program is a testament to the transformative power of cultural exchange and genuine connections.
Leila and Claudio’s unwavering dedication to treating their students like their own children and Zoe’s incredible capacity to learn and grow alongside her “sisters” exemplify the spirit of our program.

We wholeheartedly encourage other families who may be hesitant to participate to take the leap and embark on this extraordinary adventure. From playing board games and celebrating together to witnessing emotional farewells, every moment is a chance to create lasting memories and forge lifelong friendships.

As we continue to foster meaningful connections between students and host families, we are immensely grateful for the Cardenas family’s warmth, kindness, and unwavering support.

They embody the essence of our mission and inspire us to keep facilitating life-changing experiences for both students and host families alike.

Together, let’s embrace the beauty of cultural exchange and create a world where bonds transcend borders!