'From today on, Linda is our daughter'

 

The Amity Foundation started an international cultural exchange program in 2011 for students under 18 years old to enhance the friendship and mutual understanding among Chinese and German students and promote world peace by building people to people relationships. Amity and the overseas partners would like to train international experienced and global responsible talents. We want to foster the abilities of the young generation. We support their overseas exchange through family home stay and their participation in school life. The main participants are young people below the age of 18.

The following text is a memory of Linda, a Chinese exchange student in Germany:

Back to normal. I’m familiar with the school program, familiar with the school campus and familiar with my yellow and white school uniform. Old classmates surrounding me and I receive many hugs, "Long time no see”. I'm back in China! I cannot help myself, but it reminds of the time when I was leaving the school, leaving the China, for one year of experience, alone in Germany.

But let’s start from the beginning: In mid-September last year I said goodbye to my parents, relatives, friends and came to a country which was unfamiliar to me. After several twists and turns, I was received by a warm-hearted and sweet family on the day after I arrival. "From today on, Linda (this is my German name) is our daughter," my new German dad introduced me proudly to his friends.

In this family, we have six children. There are five children who go to university or who are already working. They are not living at home anymore. So everyday it is only my 13 year old sister and me. My sister and I have a common language: it is music. I am playing the piano quite well and my sister can play the flute, piccolo and trumpet. We often practice together. I have four best friends in Germany. Whenever I play some fun tunes, my German friends will dance ballet according to the music. They live nearby and we often play together.

I live in a small town in the northern part of Germany. The scenery is very beautiful. Our house is close to the woods and every day I can listen to a variety of singing birds which I don’t even know. Through the balcony window I can see deer lying in the shade, small squirrels jumping in the branches and elegant strolling cats, just to mention a few impressions. It is really harmony between man and nature. Of course I appreciate this gift but this means also to help a lot in the garden.

The beautiful enviroment where i am living.

Going to Germany, with no parents who always accompanied and loved me, with fewer friends and the language barrier, everything is strange. Sometimes I feel helpless, lost or even redundant. But “Believe in yourself," this gives me a somewhat magical energy that leads me on the way i want to go.

Step by step I become more mature, become more cheerful, grow mentally. I have to organize my own life arranging time for studying and time for traveling. I have learned that in life everyone has to take the initiative and forges her own destiny. You have to change yourself to change the attitude of the people around you. Think of yourself as a "little Sunshine," full of energy and enthusiasm. Try to be like this for yourself and let the others see it. Talk more and learn to smile more!

I tried a lot of things in Germany that I have never done before: I was swimming with a mermaid's tail with my firends, playing pool with my German dad, trying to play football, watching ballet in Leipzig and making candles in Chemnitz. I worked very hard and prepared and planed my trip to France on myself one month in advance - a trip I will never forget, as well as winter skiing with a host family in Austria. I visited Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Essen, the Rhine River and places nearby.

I celebrated my 17th birthday in Germany. It was the first time I had such a memorable birthday party. We invited my friends and my German parents carefully prepared everything for me. There received so many blessings and gifts from friends. In the night we were in the garden sitting around a bonfire which was really beautiful. I was really grateful for your company!

When I left, my host family prepared a gift, which they asked me to open when I am back in China. After I arrived home and opened I could hardly believe my eyes and my heart became filled with joy and happiness. The host family made a photo album for me. It records our lives step by step. From the first day when I arrived looking very shy until going to school on the last day filled with sadness because of my farewell. Next to each photo is my German mother's handwriting. I can really feel the love from my host family. When i am looking on the photos, I don't even know when my German family took them. I guess they have started very early to prepare this gift!

If all the memories would be a movie and I would be the main actress, it would be the creation I am most proud of: fun, suspense, sports, family and friends. Overall, Germany was to sum it up with a word “precious!”

International exchange programs depend on loving and caring families who treat the young visitors and ambassadors for cultural exchange, mutual understanding and peace as one of their 'family members' as it happened to Linda. Unfortunately, there is always a lack of suitable host families for cultural exchanges. If you consider to apply for hosting students from overseas, please contact Kate of our education and international exchange department.

jiangyuanyuan@amity.org.cn