Where do you volunteer?
The great thing about volunteering for HOST is that you do it at home, welcoming international students to spend time with you and your family.
How did you get in to volunteering and what do you do?
I found myself volunteering for HOST by accident. My daughter was studying Russian at university, but she had to take a year out due to eye problems. She needed to keep up her Russian conversation. I remembered reading about HOST in a magazine, so contacted them to see if we could have a Russian student over the Christmas holiday. In fact, we got Sergo from Georgia who was just lovely. We all got on so well, and had such fun that we were hooked on hosting from then on.
What one does as a host is just to share a weekend or a day with one of the many international students studying at a university in the UK. It is an opportunity to act in a small way as an ambassador for Britain by welcoming them into your home, cooking them some traditional meals, sharing our culture and learning about their culture.
What do you enjoy about your volunteer role, how does it benefit you?
It is always so enjoyable to host these young, intelligent students and to find out about their lives in their own counties, breaking down both our and their preconceived ideas. They are always so interested in our lives and love to join in our everyday activities especially, in my experience, cooking. I will never forget a Chinese girl's amazement when we made a lemon meringue pie. Not only had she never used an electric mixer, but she couldn't believe what happened to the egg whites when you whisk them!
What difference are you making by volunteering?
I think that when one is volunteering for HOST one is building small bridges between countries and making international friendships. These young people tell us that a HOST weekend is sometimes the best part of their stay in UK, and this will be remembered as they become the movers and shakers back home in their home countries. It is good to feel part of such a force for good.