American adventures with Antoine
The Stotz family welcomed an exchange student from the south of France to their home in the Forest Park neighborhood for the school year. In only three months, there have already been many adventures and new experiences for all of them.
Earlier this year, Stacy Stotz saw that Antoine was looking for a host family on a Facebook page for the wives of pilots. Since her husband Mark is a pilot and Antoine wants to be a pilot, Stotz thought it would be a great fit and be beneficial in many ways for both Antoine and her family.
“I thought it would be good for Antoine to see the other side of being a pilot,” said Stotz. “Mark misses birthdays and holidays, sometimes. I’m home running the show.”
The Stotzes have three children: Caityln (22) who is in college; Lindsey (16) who is at Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) with Antoine; and Christian (13) who attends Rocky Heights Middle School.
“Antoine has been like a brother to Christian, throwing a baseball with him and playing video games,” explained Stotz. “He’s also like a sibling to Lindsey, jumping right in with all of her friends.” Antoine also loves the family dogs, Seymour and Gizmo.
“It’s a great experience,” Stotz said of being a host family, “to share the way that you live with someone from another culture and bringing their culture into your home. The experience is constant; every time we go somewhere or eat anything, we have a conversation about our similarities and our differences.”
Stotz shared that Antoine’s excitement about new experiences is vast. He picked up pretty quickly how to be part of a fantasy football league, doing research on NFL players. He is enjoying all the activities of being a senior at RCHS. One of Antoine’s favorite classes at RCHS is forensic science which is not offered at his school in France. Fortunately for students taking French, Antoine will be a tutor and earn volunteer hours.
The list of family adventures is already long. Stotz summarizes their activities each week in a blog which Antoine’s mother enjoys reading. Hiking, treks to the mountains, bike rides, paddle boarding and baseball games are just a few. Antoine volunteered at the neighborhood Oktoberfest event, went to his first homecoming and took part in Halloween festivities. Stotz said that Antoine loves how “Americans celebrate everything.”
Antoine speaks English very well, but Stotz said there are times neither of them have any idea what the other is trying to say. There have been many laughs trying to communicate and learn from each other.
Antoine is super excited about the upcoming holidays, and there is no doubt the family will make many more memories.
For more information about becoming a host family, visit borderlessfriends.org.
By Lisa Nicklanovich; photos courtesy of Stacy Stotz