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27 February 2008

Homestay Family

Elaine Thurling: We've all grown so positively from having students in our house. It's like the world's opened up to us. We've had many students from Japan, from Korea, we've had Taiwanese students, and they all have something special to give.

William Thurling: How was your day, Kalvin?

Kalvin Ka Kan Wong: Not bad.

Elaine Thurling: At the moment, we have two students that are living with us. We have Kalvin, who's been here in Australia for two years now. He started off at high school and now he's gone on to university studies.

Kalvin Ka Kan Wong: When I live in Hong Kong, I feel a little bit stressed because I know what I need to do in Australia and what is like the culture or life speed. And in Hong Kong, every day is busy. But here they are normally doing normal speed and in Hong Kong is doing very fast.

William Thurling: If someone owns that, you have to pay them.

Elaine Thurling: Shikako has been here for two weeks. She'll be here for 10 weeks on a study tour.

Shikako: I want to improve my English skills. My family is very kind.

William Thurling: $80,000. Thank you.

Elaine Thurling: We don't generally have too many problems. I do find that sometimes we talk too fast. So to overcome that, when they're new, we slow down and talk very simply, and slowly they get faster and faster with our language.

Shikako, what's this called?

Shikako: Cucumber.

Elaine Thurling: Good girl. We have to practise our English. We love to experiment and we encourage students to come in the kitchen and help prepare a meal. Or they're able to bring their friends home and have a meal with us, share a meal. Thank you. Lots of students have different needs. Some don't want that family closeness and that's fine. And we're like a stepping stone until they find accommodation somewhere else or with friends that they may meet.

Shikako's in a singing group. Aren't you?

It's a exchange of cultures. They learn from us and we learn from them and we become one big family. My children have grown up with people from all over the world. And I think it's made them better people.

Michael Thurling: Yeah, it's been really rewarding just, like, growing up with them and just being able to experience other cultures and being, yeah, tolerant of these other cultures and customs and that.

James Thurling: It feels like the students that we get are part of our family. It's like extended family.

William Thurling: It's a good experience to have them with us. Yeah, they teach us how to cook Japanese food and all that.

Kalvin Ka Kan Wong: And I think if I stay with family, I can learn more English. And sometimes I can't... ..if things I can't do, they can help me, so by doing homework and other... ..learning driving stuff. So I feel more safe and comfortable in home-stay.

Yeah, I miss home, but I often go back to Hong Kong. My family come here once. My mum said, "It's family in this home-stay", so tell me to live longer in here. Yeah.

Elaine Thurling: It's always very sad to say goodbye. But the children are pretty good. They keep in touch by email and they have friends, many friends, around the world through having home-stay students. If I was to send my children overseas, I would hope they would go to a family that cared for them as their own family would. And I think that's what we offer and we hope that they have good memories of being here with us.