For three Christmas seasons, my family and I have hosted an international student through Christmas International House (CIH), a peacemaking program designed to provide international students a place to stay during the Christmas break when college campuses are deserted and dormitories empty. The experience is incredible, and I invite everyone to consider participating in this year's event.
The benefits to the program are numerous. To the attending student, CIH provides a place to stay and opportunity to learn about different areas of our country. They are able to develop new friendships with their host families and with other international students in the program. Christmas is celebrated with their host family, and for many, this may be their first Christmas holiday ever.
For the host family, the benefits are just as numerous. Families are able to attend any or all of the program activities with their international student, making the Christmas holiday truly time spent together in fun. Strong friendships develop, and host families learn about new cultures and more. CIH promotes unity, that we are all part of the human family, despite differences in culture and ideology.
Originally, we worried that hosting a student would take away from our "family time" and make Christmas less special. What we discovered was completely the opposite. CIH creates so many shared and happy experiences during the holidays and with students we've cherished and will remain forever in our hearts. IT HAS ENHANCED OUR CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY!
Each year, numerous students are turned away due to lack of host families available to take them. This year I am working on putting the program together for Houston. You don't have to attend my church, or even be a Presbyterian to participate. All you need is desire to do something kind, and open your heart and home, and the treasure awaits you.
For anyone interested in participating or if you want more information, please contact me.
You can read more about the program on the Christmas International House website and by reading some of my blog entries from previous years concerning the program. Just type "Christmas International House" in the Search This Blog box in the left column of this page.