If you didn\u2019t know David and Sherry Rollins personally, you would be forgiven for thinking the couple had one of the largest extended families you\u2019d ever seen. After all, nearly a dozen teenagers have come in and out of the Rollins household over the past decade, each staying in their home for just a handful of months before leaving, only to be followed shortly by yet another mysterious high-schooler. This is the life of a host family. But these teens aren\u2019t nieces and nephews, grandchildren or even distant cousins in need of a place to stay \u2014 they are foreign exchange students from places as far away as Asia and Europe. Some barely old enough to drive, these adventurous young strangers arrive in the United States to spend a semester or more completely immersed in American culture. That experience includes living in an American household throughout the duration of their stay \u2014 and, in the case of the Rollins, becoming an integral part of an American host family. \u201cFor us, we don\u2019t just treat our students like they are visitors \u2014 to us, they\u00a0are\u00a0our children,\u201d says David, a retired Marine who lives with his family in a small town just outside of Austin, Texas. \u201cI can\u2019t imagine where we would be had we not hosted our students.\u201d Related:\u00a04 Reasons Why Small Towns Are Perfect for Hosting Exchange Students Though the Rollins began hosting exchange students only nine years ago, you could argue that their journey toward becoming a host family began as far back as Sherry\u2019s time at university. During her junior year of college, Sherry lived and studied in France \u2014 and returned to the United States with an enormous appreciation for world travel and cultural immersion. So one morning nearly a decade ago, when the couple opened their local newspaper to find an ad inviting families in the area to host incoming foreign exchange students, it took no time at all for the couple to make up their minds. \u201c swears that she saw the article and placed it by my cup of coffee, and I swear that I opened it up and showed it to her,\u201d David laughs, looking back on the morning that would change the course of their lives forever. \u201cEither way, within two weeks of calling , we had a young man from South Korea sitting in our house. And, well, the rest is history!\u201d The Long\u00a0Haul To date, the Rollins have hosted 12 foreign exchange students over the span of just nine years. Their students have come from countries as culturally and geographically diverse as South Korea, Italy, Germany and Belgium \u2014 and for many of them, their time living with the Rollins host family was just the beginning of their experience here in the United States. Of the 12 students the Rollins have hosted, many of them have continued their studies in either an American high school or college. In fact, their very first student from South Korea returned to complete his studies just a stone\u2019s throw away from the Rollins home, eventually graduating with his diploma from an American high school. He would go on to pursue his undergraduate degree at a university in Texas before returning to Korea for two years of compulsory military service. But even for the students that permanently returned to their home countries after departing the United States, David and Sherry continue to connect with each of them via Skype at least once a quarter. Some have even returned to Texas to visit the Rollins family many years after their exchange experience. Next year, David and Sherry also plan to visit their former German exchange student\u2019s biological family in their hometown. These lifelong relationships with former students come as no surprise to David and Sherry, since the couple attests to forming very close bonds with each of their students. It\u2019s these close bonds that make the inevitable culmination of each student\u2019s stay in the Rollins home so bittersweet. \u201cEvery time one of our kids leaves, we bawl on the way home from the airport,\u201d David reminisces before adding with a laugh: \u201cBut, you know, we spend a few days feeling blue and then\u2026 it\u2019s time to find a new exchange student!\u201d Part of the Host Family Though the pair admits that being a host family for foreign teenagers can certainly be challenging, they insist that the experience is worth the emotional and logistical obstacles inherent to hosting. After all, from the moment they walk into the Rollins\u2019 household, they are no longer strangers \u2014 they are part of the family. \u201cWe treat each of our like they are one of our own,\u201d David insists. \u201cI think one of the most important things a can do is treat not as a guest, but as their own child.\u201d In the case of the Rollins family, becoming a part of the family isn\u2019t just about spending time together or congregating around the dinner table. According to David, the\u00a0real\u00a0family bonding starts when their students learn to take on their own household responsibilities \u2014 or, more simply, when they\u2019re tasked with their first set of chores. \u201cI have picking up dog poop in the backyard or mowing grass or doing their own laundry,\u201d David says with a chuckle. \u201cThey clean their room, they clean their bathroom. A majority of our students come here and don\u2019t have experience doing these things for themselves, so it\u2019s important that they adapt to the way our household runs.\u201d Of course, it\u2019s not all chores with the Rollins. After picking up a new exchange student from the airport, the family doesn\u2019t head straight home, but instead to their favorite local burger joint \u2014 a mom n\u2019 pop shop called Moonie\u2019s in Cedar Park. For many of their students, this is not only their first experience with authentic American cuisine but also the perfect introduction to the Rollins family way of life. Each of the Rollins\u2019 exchange students accompanies them on family vacations, trips to run errands and even church service every Sunday \u2014 a tradition that is not about adopting the family\u2019s religion, but entirely about understanding and truly appreciating the family\u2019s values. All in all, both David and Sherry feel their approach to integrating a student into every aspect of their lifestyle is one of the reasons why they\u2019ve had such positive experiences throughout their 12 years of hosting. It\u2019s this crystal-clear understanding of what matters most to their family that helps David and Sherry choose the right students year after year. In fact, both David and Sherry make a concerted effort to begin looking for the right match sometimes as many as six months in advance! Of course, not everyone in the Rollins\u2019 social orbit truly understands what inspires the pair to invite new students to their home every semester. \u201cWhen we would other families in our community and our church , they would look at us like we had horns growing out of our heads!\u201d David laughs. \u201cIt is such a foreign idea to to host a foreign exchange student.\u201d But for Sherry and David, hosting exchange students is nothing short of a calling \u2014 one that\u2019s rooted in their faith as well as their personal beliefs. \u201cWe\u2019re nobody special \u2014 we just love opening up our home,\u201d says David. \u201cWe open up our home because, in our view, what better way is there to share our faith, our love, and our family than hosting an exchange student here in America?\u201d This year, the Rollins are enjoying a year focused solely on their granddaughter, a talented student-athlete who will soon begin ninth grade. Despite the year sabbatical, neither David nor Sherry are ready to end their tenure as one of ISE\u2019s most prolific host families. \u201cIt\u2019s really an addiction,\u201d says David emphatically. \u201cWe just love hosting exchange students \u2014 and we\u2019re certainly nowhere near done.\u201d 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.