Runner-up Host Family of the Year: Halstead Family
We received such amazing entries for our Host Family of the Year contest. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Our contest committee had a very difficult time choosing from such wonderful entries because all your submissions are winners! We want everyone who was nominated to be recognised for how special they are!
Living abroad is an exciting and mind opening experience in itself. Sharing this time and being a part of “my” family made this year unforgettable and unique. From the moment I got picked up and welcomed with little gifts and kangaroo burger until now my first Christmas in Summer with the whole family eating prawns and hanging by the pool they made sure to include me in every second and every part of their life, in every decision and every trip.
This year was marked for me with personal and professional growth. My family is made up off amazing human beings who all have taught or influenced me in their own way. My host mum is one of the strongest and smartest persons I’ve ever met. She is someone I look up to and she pushed me to try new things, be brave and seek the next adventure. We spent endless hours singing together in the car, not really hitting the notes, looking at each other singing even louder because it’s not about perfection but the pure joy singing along and sharing this moment brings us. She also makes fun of me for loving potatoes more than anything in the world but that’s a whole other story. The greatest gift she gave me this year though was time! She works two jobs, has four kids with an extra special one, a husband and a big family and she always had time for me: for my stories, my problems, my concerns and my professional opinion. She took time for one on one shopping or going out, for making sure I know I matter and am equal and that was extra special to me.
My host dad is the example of a caring and kind person. He is always busy making sure everyone is happy and well cared for. He taught me that little things go a long way. He texted me when I was out to make sure I’m safe and left the light on for when I got back. He picked me up from the airport when I went on trips or called me on long drives to entertain me. His commitment to everything he does is impressive and his energy to push through inspiring. He also introduced me to my favourite shop in Australia: Bunnings and took me there every chance we had for a sausage sizzle and a stroll because there is always something you could possibly need. We also went together to the dawn service at ANZAC day. Sharing this important Australian holiday with an active Army member is burned in my memory and gives me goose bumps every time I think of it.
My little girl is super sweet and stands up for her brother whenever necessary. She is his little helper and includes him everywhere naturally thinking of him first before herself. She is curious and asks the best straight to the point questions wondering how the world works. From her I learned you’re never too old to ask questions of any kind and what an amazing place our world truly is.
Living with my special boy Will taught me to be grateful for every moment. He has the best smile in the world and makes me proud with everything he does. He never stops trying even when it gets frustrating and learning how to walk and talk with a PODD system can get quite frustrating especially if you can’t use actual words… I am blessed I got to spent so much time with him and it makes me really humble. Will is definitively the greatest teacher I ever had, and he made me a better person and therapist. He also taught me what it means to live without sleep, how heartbreaking screams can be and even worse tears with no way to communicate verbally what the actual problem is and how desperate and helpless this makes you feel. I learned that on some days even 10 minutes of therapy homework are just too much and all of this made me a better, more understanding and effective therapist.
Through my family I had the opportunity to get an insight into the Australian healthcare system, NDIS, be a part of Will’s team and meet every doctor, therapist and healthcare professional you can think of. I spent some time in the Queensland children’s hospital which is an amazing institution and met Australia’s first dentist for special needs kids with a therapy dog. They also made sure I had enough time to take a key sign language course which was always a dream of mine.
The best part about this year were not the amazing places I travelled to or all the new experiences or memories I had or made. It was always the little things the smiles, the laughter, the singing, the connection we shared that made this my home and me grateful to be a part of my Australian family.