Chinese Exchange Student forms Strong Bond with Host Family in Minnesota


This is the story of Siran, an exchange student from China. She was recently featured by a local news station in Minnesota. Read her story below:


By Gage Cureton | February 13, 2020
GOOD THUNDER, Minn. (KEYC) – One family in Good Thunder is hosting an exchange student from China.

17-year-old Siran Zao is on a ten-month visit from China as an exchange student at Maple River High School, and she says Minnesota’s sprawling landscapes are much different than her hometown of 16 million people.

“In the summer the sky is much more beautiful. The sky’s really beautiful and it’s so quiet, and in China I live in a big city so it’s noisy,” says Zao.

Zao’s host family, Matt and Tina Hollerich, say their decision to host Siran kind of came on the whim.

“We had talked about it one day, and it was just briefly, and we thought ‘this might be fun,’” says Tina.

In almost no time Siran was on her way to the United States.

“I basically told my husband that in a couple of weeks she was coming and we’re going to be a host family for 10 months. It was kind of not really thought out, but it’s been a great experience,” says Tina.

“Siran seems to love it here and she’s just such a great young lady. There are no complaints on our end. She’s just an awesome, one hundred percent lovely young lady.,” says Matt.

Exchange student arriving in airport

Zao came to the United States through the International Student Exchange, who say they’re looking for more families to host students.

“When you think of someone from a different country you think ‘are they just like us?’ They are, they’re just like us. Really they become a part of your family,” says Brian Haas, and area representative for the International Student Exchange.

Haas’ family had once hosted a student from Germany who they still keep in touch with.

“I think we’ll forever consider Clara a part of our family and I’m sure she feels the same way. If you’re ever thinking about it, get ahold of me, we can discuss it, answer all your questions and I’m sure you won’t regret it,” says Haas.

Zao says she plans to revisit the United States one day.

“Yeah, it’s a good experience. It’s just like you go to a different country and try many, many different things – it’s a different culture – and the food,” says Zao.

She says she’d like to attend an American university to study broadcast media.


If you would like to help an exchange student’s dreams come true, we invite you to read more about hosting a foreign exchange student. If you have specific questions about hosting, check out our host family FAQ page. You can also read testimonials from our past and current host families. When you feel ready, complete our host family interest form and our area representative will get in touch with you.

You can also get involved by joining our team of Area Representatives! Help match host families and exchange students and bring the world closer together, while making a supplemental income.


Global friendship starts with local action. Volunteer to host a student today!


Change the world, one family at a time. Apply to become an ISE Area Representative!


Explore a new culture and experience a new way of life. Become an exchange student!

Leave a comment