Loenhout’s host family brought Hong Kong culture into their home for years with student Billow (18): “Incredibly enriching experience that makes you want more” (Wuustwezel)

In August, several foreign students arrive in our country via AFS Vlaanderen to study here for a year and soak up another culture. They then live with a host family for a year. This is also the case on the northern outskirts of Antwerp. The NOA Committee is looking for four more host families.

“The students arrive the last weekend in August. It’s nice for them to know quickly that there is a family that would like to receive them. Host families should therefore register as soon as possible, “emphasizes May Van Dijck.

to learn English

You do not have to convince the Vercauteren-Krynen family in Loenhout that it is a very enriching experience. “Initially, we were looking for a welcoming family. Then you receive a student for a month. That way, he or she can already travel to our country before he or she goes to the effective host family, ”Mother Sandy outlines the beginning of the adventure.

Billow on arrival in Loenhout with his host family. It clicked right away. © RR

“We were quickly asked if we would not be a full-fledged host family. We discussed it with the whole family, and everyone supported it. “In addition to father Danny, the family has four sons: Stijn (23), Senne (19), Stig (15) and Sijmen (14).

Stijn has been living independently for two years now, so his room was vacant. “I was primarily hoping to improve my English,” admits Senne, who is studying industrial engineering at UA. According to Stig, who goes to school at VITO Hoogstraten, the Construction Department, it has also been a success. Sijmen is studying at VTI Spijker in Hoogstraten and thinks it is an exciting adventure.

New culture

“We did not really know what we were getting into in advance, but it went two hundred percent better than expected. From the first contact when we picked him up at Noorderkempen station, it was as if we had known each other for years. Billow immediately waved enthusiastically to us. He is a very kind young man who shows a lot of respect “, adds mother Sandy.

Billow was quickly established.

Billow was quickly established. © RR

The family soon learned about Billow’s culture. “Hong Kong immediately captured the imagination,” Senne says. “I googled it right away and thought it was in China. I also traveled to Antwerp by public transport with Billow. To give him a picture of our region, because Antwerp is much more hectic than rural Loenhout. ”

Billow will soon end his school year at Stella Matutina in Wuustwezel. He taught there in the fifth year Handel. “I already had a degree in business management in Hong Kong. There is a focus more on theory, here more on practical, especially IT was very new,” says Billow. He did not enter the sixth year because many dissertations are made, which would be a little difficult for him. “But I already know a little bit of Dutch,” he admits.

Billow visited several cities in our country both with the family and with AFS.

Billow visited several cities in our country both with the family and with AFS. © RR

French fries and chocolate

He will stay in Loenhout until July 13. The parting will weigh heavily on both sides. “I really like being here. It’s beautiful here. I also visited the cities of Bruges, Ghent, Hasselt and Leuven. But what we will remember most of all is eating together. My parents have a hotel in Hong Kong “I also help and we never eat there together. I will miss those family moments, and of course the fries with currywurst, the chocolate and the pints”, laughs Billow.

He also recommends it to other students. “You grow much faster. You can not just go to your parents in case of problems, because they are far away. You also stay in a foreign country with another language. You also have to miss your friends for a year.”

Billow with his Belgian 'brothers' Stig and Sijmen.  They will miss each other.

Billow with his Belgian ‘brothers’ Stig and Sijmen. They will miss each other. © RR

It was also an adaptation for the Vercauteren family. “But it was all worth it,” says Father Danny. “We will miss him too. It will be strange if Billow is not here anymore,” the boys also comment. “He’s just part of the family. He settled here very quickly.” They also realize so much the more that they live a good life here. “Billow goes to work at his parents’ hotel after school. We come home and only have school work and hobbies, ”admits Stig.

The family has definitely got it under control and has already decided to run as a host family again.

(Any lameness)

www.afsvlaanderen.be, may.van.dijck@outlook.com

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