Imagine being told that a stranger was going to be living in your house for the next three years. Imagine coming overseas from a different country and having to live with a family that you have never met before. Mierra Haroldson (’20) and Rachel Li (’18) have gone through this experience together. Rachel is one […]
Imagine being told that a stranger was going to be living in your house for the next three years. Imagine coming overseas from a different country and having to live with a family that you have never met before. Mierra Haroldson (’20) and Rachel Li (’18) have gone through this experience together.
Rachel is one of Christian Brothers’ many international students. In 2014, she traveled from China to begin her freshman year of high school in the United States. After living with one family for her freshman year, Rachel found out that she would be moving in with a different host family at the beginning her sophomore year.
The Haroldson family has had an international student stay with them before, but taking in a new student is still an interesting situation to be in given the fact that both parties do not know each other very well. Rachel admits to being a little nervous when she was first moving in because of how little she knew about them. Mierra, on the other hand, was excited to have another international student staying with them. She had lived with one for four years before, so she was used to having someone else living in the house.
While moving in with a new family seemed difficult at first thought, Rachel and Mierra both agree that the transition was pretty smooth. Rachel says that there really were no difficulties when she moved in.
“I started to live with them my sophomore year so homesickness wasn’t that bad,” she says. “They were very welcoming towards a different culture, and always were willing to listen to me when I was having a bad day.”
“Rachel was good in the beginning. She was kind of shy at first toward us, but started opening up,” Mierra said. “It took some time getting used to her and getting to know her.”
She and the rest of the Haroldson clan did all they could to help Rachel feel welcomed in their home.
“They decorated my room and answered all of my questions,” Rachel says. “They invited me to play “Just Dance” with them. We also always go on bike rides together.”
Rachel has felt that living with this new family for the past few years has helped her further adjust to life in the United States.
“Living with the Haroldsons really helped me with integrating into the American culture. [They] also gave me a sense of belonging. I know that there is a family that I can always turn to and I know that I’m not alone here.”
Living with a host family has also improved Rachel’s English and even exposed her to holiday traditions that are common in America.
“I also learned a lot more about different holiday celebrations. I have enjoyed making Thanksgiving meals with them and I love seeing what’s in my Easter basket every year.”
It is evident that Rachel and the Haroldsons have developed a strong relationship. Rachel feels that she is “pretty close with all of them.” She even has come to view them as her sisters.
“Everyone is open and caring in this family. We fight sometimes of course, but most of the time we get along very well.”
Mierra feels the same way about Rachel. With both of her older sisters (Maliah Haroldson ‘16 and Makena Haroldson ‘17) in college now, she likes having someone else in the house. She says that Rachel “is very supportive and calls me out when I’m doing something wrong.” Mierra says. “She has also introduced me to some Asian snacks, which I still enjoy.”
Aside from sharing snacks with each other, Rachel and Mierra will walk their neighbor’s dog , play volleyball in the yard, and watch movies together.
Their sister-like relationship definitely still took some time to develop. When Rachel first moved in, Mierra was still in middle school, so she feels that they did not really get to spend much time together at first. It was not until Mierra started her freshman year at CB when she felt her bond with Rachel really grow.
“I never really knew what [Rachel] liked or what she liked to do. However, my freshman year, Makena, who was a senior at the time, drove Rachel and I to school. This allowed us to get to know each other on a more deeper level. We started to hang out more and over this past year I think that we were closer than ever. She is someone that I can rely on and tell my secrets to. She will always give her honest opinion on things. She is like a sister to me.”
Mierra feels that Rachel has definitely been a good addition to her family. After living with them for the last three years, Rachel will be leaving their house this summer as she is going away to college at UCLA this fall. Rachel says that she will miss Mierra and the Haroldsons very much and that she will definitely come back to visit. Mierra will miss having someone who is very happy and energetic around.
“I will miss all of the fun things we did together, and I am happy that we became so close,” Mierra says.