By Julia Georgieva, Host mother YES abroad program Sofia, Bulgaria
I met Grace for the first time at Sofia airport. Before that moment we haven’t had any kind of communication. I was very worried, probably she felt the same. I did not know what to expect. I applied for YES abroad program, got the approval and accepted to be a host mother. The American kids arrived. A tiny girl came to me and hugged me. It was Grace. I do not speak English and she couldn’t speak Bulgarian. I understood from the coordinators of the program that she was a vegetarian. On the way home, I found out that doesn’t eat fish, too. We got in our home and our living together begun. It’s been nine months since then. On the very beginning we set the rules which both of us respect perfectly until today. I am delighted of her behavior and manners. She is incredibly intelligent, considerate, adaptable and compassionate. Never has she shown impatience or disrespect toward me or any other member of the family
Being a host parent for me is no different than being a parent to my own kids – it is taking exactly the same amount of responsibility. My attitude to Grace is identical to the way I behave with own children. The same applies for my husband. The kids immediately accepted Grace as being part of our family. And it was not only them who did so. We are a big family that includes my brother’s family and the family of my husband’s brother. Grace became a close friend with my nephews. She brought so much light to our lives as well as the pure innocence that only young people glow with.
Being part of the YES abroad program is a great adventure for all of us, including Grace herself. She came to one distant and little known country with rich history. I was constantly trying to give her plenty of information and background, to organize and make her attend events that show the traditions, lifestyle and culture of our ancient people. I wanted to pass on my love for Bulgaria and I think I succeeded doing so. I am astonished of the spontaneity, continuity and modesty that Grace shows at her young age.
Future host parents, do enter in this project and do it as if it is your child that comes home. Open your heart and accept the challenge knowing that everything lies in your hands. If your mind can welcome an unusual but positive change and if you heart is brimming with love, there is no reason to worry. Keep in mind we are parents, not friends. We get no private space but we get a rare treasure – a child that will keep a lifetime memory of our experience together.
Big THANK YOU YES abroad program for giving me the opportunity to go through this incredible experience and for bringing two families from different continents, my family and Grace’s family, together, as friends.