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From a YES host: Our year with “our IRIS son”

May 7, 2010

Terri Halstead is the host mom of Terver Kelvin Ubwa from Benue State, Nigeria. They live in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Terver attends Ft. Dodge High School.

In this post, Terri shares about her year with her new son…

Halstead family

I will never forget the day we met Terver in Des Moines. I thought: “What a brave young man to fly halfway around the world to experience the American culture.” He was so quiet, but that soon changed as we got to know each other better. We had many late-night talks, which I will dearly miss after he leaves to go back to Nigeria in June.

In August, Terver celebrated his 18th birthday with us. He was so appreciative of everything, which made it so much more fun to do things to surprise him!

After starting school, he went to the stadium to check out “football.” When he came home, he said, “I can’t do that sport! If I do, I think I will be killed!” He later joined football and played the whole season. He lettered in football. He now loves football. What a great experience for him, and just being part of the team was exciting for him.

October — Terver experienced many things: His first Halloween. He dressed up as a vampire. He was pretty scary. Homecoming. His first big American dance.  He went and had a blast. We took Terver, Lawal and Justin to a college in York, Nebraska. On the way to Nebraska it started to snow, and I was blessed with seeing the twinkle in their eyes and the excitement. Slipping, sliding, laughing with pure delight at the white flakes falling from the sky. Little did he know what kind of winter was in store for him!

November — His first Thanksgiving. He stayed up all night making Moi-Moi for our Thanksgiving feast. We all really enjoyed eating it. He did so many community service projects. Always such a willing participant. He helped us to get more involved in our OWN community.

December — I kept telling him to “Believe.” Christmas was sort of magical, especially to see his eyes when he opened his gift from “Santa.” I still tell him to “Believe.”

January — We welcomed in the New Year together.

February — Terver helped us with our “Sweetheart Banquet” and got many Valentines.

March — The Easter Bunny made his way to our home once again. Our Spring Break trip to Kansas City.

April — Prom. Soccer, Soccer, Soccer.

May — Our last few precious days to spend with our new son.

Seriously, we have been blessed by having an IRIS student much more than he was. Terver made us aware of the Nigerian culture. He was proud of his ancestry and his country. His parents at home have done an amazing job raising him. He is so respectful, has a great sense of humor and is very intelligent.

The world has become a smaller place since we have gotten to know Terver.

Our home was quiet. We had become empty nesters. It was so nice to have the house filled with activity and laughter again. How did we get so close?  We will be so sad when he leaves and once again, we will be back to a quiet home, but we would not have missed this experience for anything.

Terver will always have a special place in our hearts. We would like to thank IRIS and the U.S. State Department for sending him our way! What a great program.

Thank you to the families of these students for sharing your children with us and trusting us to take care of them. Terver will always have a home in Fort Dodge with us as well as any of the IRIS staff or students we have met. Thank you. We need to pray that this program will continue.


The Halsteads

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Daniel Suleiman permalink
    June 5, 2010 12:17 PM

    This is an amazing piece. I’ve always thought it’d be cool to explore other cultures but never this exciting until I had my own experience: my host family, school friends and number of friends I met and made during conference meetings from different countries. I plan to do anything possibly right to support the growth of this programme-global peace is what we need and that can only be achieved when we start showing love and respect for one another.

  2. June 19, 2010 8:13 PM

    We also hosted Lawal and what a great experience. It is sad to see the program not being sponsored again next year. It is one of the best school years I have ever had working with a student that here to really study. He had to work extra hard and did by being very dedicated.

    If only the state department understood just how much is put into these children and how worth it is to everyone involved, they wouldn’t hesitate in a minute to continue.

    Thanks to everyone and wonderful letter, Terri.

  3. Daniel Suleiman permalink
    June 25, 2010 10:39 PM

    Wow! That’s nice. Wish there was anything I could in my power physically to make the programme move forward. Seriously, lives of the students have been transformed ever since this programme started. Somehow most of the students tend to have a wider scope of the world activities and want to take part in making it, affecting it for a positive change to the best of their knowledge. Many who didn’t even know their purpose get to know all these through this programme. I am a living witness.
    Keeping contacts with others from different nationalities and hoping to do even more when the take their positions as leaders in their various countries. I’m so certain that this programme is taking us somewhere meaningful.

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