We know that mothers make an impact in the lives of our students and alumni. From moms who encourage their sons and daughters to study abroad and support them every step of the way to host mothers who open their hearts and homes to our students—moms mean the world to our students.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked our alumni to share the role their mothers and host mothers played in their study abroad experience. Here is what a few of them had to say:
“My host mom, Wafae, made my year studying abroad in Morocco so much more comfortable. She made my favorite foods, took me on Sunday adventures with the family, welcomed my friends and my family when they visited, and treated me like one of her own daughters. It has been almost a year since I’ve seen her, and I miss her so much!
My real mom (and dad, sister, brother, aunt, and uncle) came to visit Morocco in between my two semesters. Living abroad made it difficult to communicate with people back home, but my mom made sure to iMessage and Skype call to check in all the time. I know that having Wafae take care of me really helped ease her worries, and I’m glad that the two had the chance to meet. Happy Mother’s Day and thank you to both Mom and Wafae!” – Mallory Wheeler (IES Abroad Rabat, 2014-15)
“One of the things that I so appreciate about Mme Douillard, my host mother in Nantes, is her appreciation for diversity. I remember when I arrived and families were there to pick up their students, that some of the families felt sorry for my host mom because I was black, but in Mme Douillard–style she set them right, making them know how enriched her family’s life would be because they had a student like moi.” – Maame Afon Yelbert-Obeng (IES Abroad Nantes, Fall 2002)
“I never thought I could study abroad [in Vienna] because of money. I mentioned it to my mother who replied ‘You are going, Mike. I will borrow the money.’ She did, and I went.” – Mike Otten (IES Abroad Vienna, 1954-55)
"How nice to remember our mamans nantaises, especially Mme Fleury who was mother to each and every IES Abroad Nantes student. My French family were the Barthélémys, but I was often at chez Fleury. When my mother was the first parent to visit IES Abroad Nantes in 1967, Mme Fleury welcomed her at dinner, and we danced to yéyé music in the cave. It was a perfect introduction for my mother with her Rochellais roots to French hospitality and life in Nantes.” – Mimi Geffel Kimbrough (IES Abroad Nantes, 1966-67)
“My host mom was without a doubt one of the best parts of my trip abroad. From day one, she greeted us with smiles and love, made sure that we always ate dinner together, and always wanted to hear all about our days. She challenged me to speak in Spanish the entire time that I was at home and really helped support me in using Spanish. Although it was often intimidating, she encouraged me to keep practicing and found ways in addition to speaking that could help me get a better ear for it. I learned so much from Joaquina while I was abroad and feel so lucky to have been placed with such a wonderful host mom!” – Julia Welch (IES Abroad Barcelona, Summer 2015)
“My mother majored in French as an undergraduate, but had neither the money nor the family support to study abroad in the mid-1960s. The Merrill Scholarship made it possible for me to live my mother’s dream, as well as my own.” – Gretchen Cook-Anderson (IES Abroad Nagoya, 1988-89)
“I had a really great host mom. We really got along and loved watching soap operas together. One night I didn’t go out since I was exhausted after multiple nights out in a row, and she was so shocked she asked if I was sick. I will never forget her; she was a really positive part of my experience.” – Sophie Elgort (IES Abroad Buenos Aires, Fall 2006)
“My mother had told me when I was in high school that it was her dream that I spend my junior year abroad. She actually died during my sophomore year. It wasn’t as though it was in her memory that I felt that I had to go; rather, she had planted the idea very strongly, and it sounded like it would be something good to do and a lot of fun.” – James Pooley (IES Abroad Paris, 1968-69)
From all of us at IES Abroad, Happy Mother’s Day!
Check out our Mother’s Day Album on Facebook for more stories.