(Part of a blogging series on orphan-hosting with Project 143)
On Saturday afternoon we plunked down on the loveseat in our kitchen nook, my husband and I, and hung for a while with some Project 143 folks. Online, that is. Why? For our three-hour, mandatory, host parent training, run by a lovely P143 staff member — who was previously a host parent, then an adoptive parent of a host child. We picked one of three slots that they offered host families (signupgenius.com on that one). The meeting itself was done on anymeeting.com. Me, my husband, some chips and guacamole, and my laptop on our end… and a bunch of other host families (50 I think?) across the US on the other end.
The photo up top is what we were looking at (minus the chips and guac).
It made a big difference to us – I’m not gonna lie – that P143 conducts their host training session remotely. There are other orphan-hosting organizations (great ones from all I hear) whose host family trainings are live, in-person meetings of longer durations than this. But the prospect of driving to, or even flying in, for a training session felt like more than we could bite off when, on April 1, we signed up to welcome a child the last week of June. Between farm life, end-of-the-year homeschooling stuff, prior commitments… it would’ve been tough to carve out a half-weekend (to full-weekend, depending on where the closest training was). So we’re thanking our lucky stars that with P143, we didn’t have to.
Caveat here: I’m a program design girl. That’s what I do for my part-time (now very part-time) consulting work: help nonprofits design, run, and improve their programs. And I’m completely sure that the organizations that do live, in-person training sessions have great reasons for doing so. I bet can they can tout benefits that accrue to host families that can’t be gained through remote training like we did on Saturday — I can even imagine what some of them are. And I commend them for it. I’m just saying that for us, P143 offering the training remotely was a huge, huge bonus.
Now onto the training itself:
We liked it. We both found it useful. It was well done, covered good ground, kept our interest, answered our questions. The technology functioned very well – we especially loved the live-chat feature along the left side bar where we could ask questions that popped up in our minds as we went along. And that allowed us to connect with other host parents (e.g., I “met” another family one hour from us in southern MD that’s hosting a Latvian sibling pair, which was awesome). It was great that P143 had designated a volunteer assistant to live-summarize key points the trainer was making via the chat panel to keep everyone focused and on track. It worked really well.
And we learned, of course, a boatload of information: travel stuff, cultural stuff, food stuff, clothing stuff, language stuff, adjustment stuff… A Ton of Stuff. So much of what was shared helped us to get to better understand where these kids are coming from and what kinds of concrete challenges they often face, day to day. We’re talking basic stuff like having clothes that fit, negotiating warm or hot water in a shower, getting a sufficient quantity of food at regular intervals (and even getting to choose which foods), being given small items for which gratitude is anticipated. These may be – or may not be – out of the norm for kids being hosted. The host parents’ job is to get it – and be sensitive, patient, and guidance-oriented about all this stuff as they welcome and love their host kids.
All the more it got us thinking: what an adventure lies in store. Cannot wait to meet this boy.
Originally published in May, 2014