The Kobet family from Soddy Daisy had never thought about hosting an exchange student until the 4th of July when they received a call from STS foundation local coordinator, Mika McCoy. Their son, Jack, is in the marching band at Soddy Daisy High School, and they were matched with “Tom” from China who has been playing trombone for 6 years. Because of his history with the trombone, he was suggested to the Kobets. Now both of the Kobet “boys” are gearing up to play in Soddy Daisy’s marching band this year. Tom arrived in Chattanooga on Friday, the 19th, and on Monday he was on the field in band camp.
Tom is from Wuxi, China, one of Chattanooga’s Sister Cities. Sister Cities International was created at President Eisenhower’s 1956 White House conference on citizen diplomacy. Eisenhower envisioned an organization that could be the hub of peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the world. Sister Cities International creates relationships based on cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges, creating lifelong friendships that provide prosperity and peace through person-to-person “citizen diplomacy.”
Jackie, his host mom, says it’s been “an exciting few days.” Tom missed the first week of preparation for the band, so he had some catching up to do. Jackie said, “it was difficult trying to overcome the language barrier.” However, yesterday (Tuesday) was a much better day: Tom was able to get some one-on-one tutoring from a former band student on the basics of marching---how to hold the instrument, how to place feet, etc. Now, Jackie says the band teacher said “he looks better than some of the students who have been there for awhile.”
Tom’s English is very good, according to Jackie, and he’s enjoying trying new foods. He wants to cook some of his homeland’s traditional foods for his host family soon.
STS Foundation is currently seeking families like the Kobets, who will open their home to an international teenager. Host families are asked to provide room and board – including 3 meals per day, reasonable transportation and a loving/nurturing environment for the students. Students come with their own health insurance and monies for clothing, incidentals, entertainment and travel.
STS Foundation (Student, Travel, Study) is a not-for-profit organization that places international high-school-age students with host families. For more information about how to become a host family, call the regional office at 866/425-4678.