Since being introduced to the World Link program in 2007 and hosting their first international student in 2009, World Link veteran host family, Jim and Susan Boyd have hosted 6 exchange students and will be hosting a 7th this upcoming exchange year.
Recently, a dream of Jim and Susan’s came true and they were able to spend one month during the Summer of 2017 in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. While there, they visited some of their exchange daughters; one dating back to almost 10 years ago. It was evident upon first stepping off the plane, global connections are forever.
During their one month trip, the Boyd’s and their exchange daughters toured cultural sites and tasted traditional food, but more importantly they spent time together as a family. They laughed together while playing endless games of UNO. They shared stories over fresh cups of coffee. They even celebrated Father’s Day with a beautiful cake made for Jim. As you will see from the story written by the Boyd’s below; the students they have hosted are not simply foreign exchange students – They are and will always be a Boyd.
A History of Hosting
Our story starts back in 2007 when we met a young lady that came to our Lions Club meeting to do a presentation regarding the FLEX Program and World Link Inc. This young lady’s name was Laylo, she spent some extra time talking to people after her presentation. She came up to Jim and I; and asked “why you not have a student”?
From that minute forward that was all that Jim could think about. The school year passed and the next year started, we hadn’t made any decisions to host until we got a call about helping a couple of young ladies from Kazakhstan with some volunteer hours. So Jim’s first experience was getting to know these two girls while ringing the Salvation Army Bell at Christmas time.
It was love at first sight, they became our shadows and went to everything the Hanford Lions Club had to do, even getting up at 5:30 am to attend Breakfast Club meetings. Not long after that we were asked to provide temporary housing on a short term basis. We did, but even after finding excellent host families they continued to attend Lions meetings and help at all projects. And spending Wednesday nights at our home.
So you could say Aiman and Aiganym had Jim at the first hello. And the story continued, the following year we hosted Giza from Tajikistan, followed by Myhari from Turkmenistan, Shota from Georgia, Shristy from India, Javohir from Tajikistan, and Asel from Kyrgyzstan. We have loved every minute spent with all of our children, we have embraced their cultures and learned as much as we could about each country. And we shared our families and our culture with them.
Visiting Our Global Family
This year we lived our dream, we traveled to Almaty, Kazakhstan and visited with Aiman and Aiganym in their country. Javohir traveled to spend time with us and meet her sisters. We traveled and saw many sights, we enjoyed the arts; seeing a ballet and attending a symphony. We met many of the relatives, each welcoming us into their homes and feeding many traditional dishes. We have been invited back whenever we can make it. We never felt like strangers, from the first hugs we knew we were family.
Our next trip took us to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Our daughter Asel is attending university there; our daughter Giza, now lives and works in Dubai. They made all the arrangements for our stay there and made sure we always had plenty to eat. Asel’s Grandmother traveled from their town Talas to meet us and spend several days with us. Again we saw many sights, we traveled and stayed at Lake Issy-kkul for 3 days. Grandma and the girls made Plov outside on a huge wok, we visited the Bazaar’s, took several walks in the parks which had many monuments.
We also met with the Bishkek Lions Club, their meeting place is at the National Art Museum. Asel was a member of the Hanford Leo Club while she was in Hanford. Both girls translated for us and Asel has been invited to join the Lions Club in Bishkek and possibly help them start their own Leo Club.
Seeing the Impact
We will tell you this, you will never know what an impact you make on someone else’s life until you reunite with them. Our Giza shared with us, she always dreamed to be an only child, she always dreamed to never have hand me down clothes when she was a small girl. And we were her dream. And you never know how much you love them until you miss them like crazy. Our hearts yearn for the ones that we weren’t able to see, but we will some day, we hope soon. Our family has grown by about 40 people now. Not only do we have children to visit, but brothers and sisters and cousins. And just some old friends we met in the US a few years back. We were living the dream and we will dream and live it again.
When you open your heart, family and your home to an exchange student, you definitely open up the entire world to new opportunities. Your life is forever changed, and words cannot describe the love that you give and receive. We were able to see and enjoy the impact we actually had on each of these our children.
Our plans for the next trip have already started. When our children returned to their home we all felt the heart break, we felt lonely and empty with each one. The minute you step back in to each other’s life, it was like there was no time separating us.
Thank you parents, grandparents and families for sharing your children with us. Words can not express the how much we have appreciated your hospitality and love you have shown us during our visit. We love you all, your countries and your people and learning more about traditions. Thank you daughters and the other FLEX students for all the wonderful surprises. But mostly for your love.