Inviting the World into Our Home

By Lisa Parsons, EarthCorps Homestay

When my husband David and I are not traveling, we host young internationals from EarthCorps, bringing the world into our home and mentoring the next generation of environmental leaders.  EarthCorps brings together young people from all over the planet to learn about environmental leadership, trail building, and restoration in Seattle, Washington.

The young internationals range in age from 24-28 and all have at least a four year degree or equivalent in an environmental field.  They are often trailblazers in their communities and bring that enthusiasm with them to EarthCorps and the host families they live with.

 

alejandra

David and myself with Mrinalini, our international daughter from India; Alejandra on her first day at EarthCorps.

Accidental Parents

David and I stumbled upon EarthCorps by accident.  I was working on conservation issues in rural southeast King County with Green River Gorge.  I had recently relocated to north Seattle when David and I got married.  Leaving my conservation community was hard but it opened up a new life full of new friends and possibilities.

EarthCorps became part of our new life as a result of meeting up with an EarthCorps international alumni while leading a hike for my conservation work.  When I told the young Colombian woman about my move back to the city and how I felt so disconnected from my conservation community, she heard “I live in North Seattle”.  She immediately said to me “You should host an international from EarthCorps”.  Hmm, interesting, I thought.  That is how our experience with EarthCorps began.

 

Veryl

Our many adventures with Veryl.  Whitewater rafting, hiking, mt. biking, playing in the snow, building snow caves and sand castles, and attending a Mariner’s baseball game.

Sharing Our Experience

It made perfect sense.  My husband and I are world travelers and outdoor adventurers. I work in environmental conservation, and my husband is interested in healthy living and green building.  We are both committed to creating a better world.  What better way to share our experience than host a young person from another country.

 

Mrinalini

Mrinalini from India, Veryl from Kenya, and Adel from Czech Republic at Global Cafe, an annual cultural event.

 

APICs (Adopted Parents of International Children)

Both my husband and I never had kids. We are DINKS (dual income, no kids). We thought that the EarthCorps internationals would be like roommates and we would share our experience with them.  What we found, though, was that we shared a very special bond with them as “adopted parents of international children” (APICs).  We now have, what we call, international children from Bolivia, Kenya, Morocco, India, Romania, and Czech Republic.  We share our American life and learn more about their lives and cultures.

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My niece and nephew coach the 2014 Internationals on how to carve pumpkins; Veryl with my niece and nephew decorating the Christmas tree.

Beyond Our Borders

Nikki was our first international.  She is an environmental engineer from Bolivia.  She was so friendly and engaging from the moment she arrived.  She really set the bar for our experience hosting young internationals.  Of course, as our first international child, she will always hold a special place in our heart.  And not only did we gain an international daughter but also an extended international family who we have visited in Bolivia.  Bolivia, now, is more than just a country we have visited.  It is a culture that we have come to know and love through our connection with Nikki and her family.

We are happy to know that we have played a small role in their development as the next environmental leaders, adventurers, teachers, and innovators that make up a larger global community.

We follow our extended family through Facebook.  We watch them grow as young people into accomplished adults who are doing wonderful work in their countries.  We also share as they start families, move, raise children, and navigate life’s many experiences.

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Traveling with Nikki on our trip to Bolivia.

 

The Connections

Our connections to others on the planet who share our passion for the environment makes us part of this large interconnected international community.  As a result our world has become both larger and smaller.  The result of our shared experiences is a growing belief that we can create a better world through understanding, cultural exchange, and pizza!

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The new internationals make and eat pizza together! Palamino at the front of the photo is our international son from Morocco

 

For more photos of our EarthCorps family visit:  www.lisaparsons.net/Earthcorpsvolunteer

Learn more about EarthCorps Homestay program.