written by: Sandra Sofia Diaz Franco, Participant from Paraguay

In my own perspective, one of the most exciting things about being an exchange student is when you meet your host family; I still remember when I received an email from my host family, it was really an overwhelming moment knowing that I am going to spend a year with a different family to which I am not accustomed, definitely will make my experience a challenge.

I have a good relationship with my siblings as if we had known each other for a long time. My host parents, on the other hand, are incredible people, loving and always open to any adventure. They are letting me experience the beautiful scenic beaches, rugged mountains and indigenous cultures in Mindanao which are for centuries. To name a few, they have let me explore Dapitan City which is surely an ultimate shrine city of the Philippines — a vibrant city in the northern end of the Zamboanga peninsula. We also went to General Santos City or “GenSan” which is a highly urbanized city located at the southern portion of South Cotabato, where the popular Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao is a native. It is also known as “The Tuna Capital of the Philippines” (of course I did not forget to take photos with huge tuna which I haven’t seen before). I also learned that I enjoy the setting of different cities in Mindanao immensely. Mindanao has all of the amenities that makes it dynamic and exciting, with museums, parks, delicious food, cultural institution and especially a happy community — a pleasant detail that makes my exchange life grateful. My experience was truly invaluable from a cultural perspective as I truly had the chance to connect with the local people because of my host family.

I can say that I am really lucky that I got a really lovely host family that I was able to talk to and build a good relationship with. From the first day, I could tell that living with them will be a great adventure and I proved that I am right. I am spending every day with happiness as they always make me feel that I am part of the family which I value a lot. I know that the bond we are creating now will last forever. I am sure that a piece of my heart will always be with them, here in Davao, it is something that would never change, it is a worthwhile experience.

I personally feel very grateful for my host family because they chose me.

Salamat Kaayo! <3