To attend school in America has been a dream of Constanza’s for as long as she can remember.

“When I was a child, I used to watch movies that showed typical American high schools. Since then, my dream was always to live a typical life here (in the U.S.) and attend a high school. So, when I reached the minimum required age, I fulfilled my dream!”

Constanza, or “Conny” as her friends call her, is a Trimester student from Argentina attending high school as a Freshman in Illinois. Prior to participating on the PSE program, Conny had vacationed with her family in the U.S. many times, but she had never had the opportunity to participate in a homestay experience.

Conny applied for the shorter duration program because she didn’t want to be away from her family for too long. However, she has enjoyed the experience so much that she extended her program duration by two months!

When it comes to her host family, Conny is convinced that they are a perfect fit.

“I couldn’t have been luckier than this.  My host family is the best!  We have a lot of things in common, and we share beautiful moments. They make me feel at home.  I get along very well with everyone, and I can say that they are my second family,” she shares.

Together, Conny and her host family enjoy playing board games, putting together puzzles, going out to dinner, attending baseball games, visiting aquariums and the zoo, going ice skating, playing indoor golf, and playing video games.

“Conny and our 10-year-old daughter have developed a really great relationship and often hang out together playing games, watching a movie, or doing homework side by side,” share Rebecca, Conny’s host mother, who agrees that Conny is a naturally good fit with their family.

“It seems like she’s been with us much longer than she has due to her easy-going spirit. It’s been a great pleasure.  Her attitude in connecting with us and others, openness to trying new experiences, and calm and inquisitive demeanor makes her a joy to be around.”

Rebecca continues:

“Hosting has allowed us to gain another member of our family to further engage us in activities that we may not otherwise do together.”

One of Conny’s favorite memories with her host family is when they visited Chicago. They went to the Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, and shopped downtown. She recalls:

“It was my second week in America, and my host family took me to a skyscraper in Chicago.  There were beautiful views of the city at night.”

Conny’s Local Coordinator, Mary Ann, describes her as likeable and easy to communicate with.

“Constanza always wears a smile, and people seem to gravitate to her!”

Conny has noted a few differences between school in the U.S. versus what she was accustomed to in Argentina, including having lockers, changing classrooms, and class periods being shorter in the U.S.  She truly has enjoyed every aspect of American school.

“If someone makes me decide if I prefer to go to school here or in Argentina, I choose here a hundred times!” she exclaims.

One of the things that she has enjoyed most about school is participating in the theater production “Check, Please!” She played the roles of four different characters in the production and had a great time.  The experience taught how to be a part of team, and she loved practicing with her group very much.

“I think my favorite memory is when we had to stay for dinner at school to practice the play with the whole cast. We had dinner together and laughed a lot,” she reflects.

Conny recognizes that through this exchange experience, she has gained independence and learned not to depend so much on her parents in Argentina.

Mary Ann closes with this message:

“Constanza, you have a very special place in the hearts of your host family, teachers, friends, and your Local Coordinator.  You make the world more beautiful in so many ways!”

Written by Flo Webb; Edited by Ann Steffen

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