“Kaixo!”  means, “Hello,” in the Basque language. Last June, six families in the Fort Wayne area said, “Kaixo,” to six Basque students and hosted them in their homes for three weeks through the Kaixo USA program. Through this program and others like it, FEC churches have been hosting Basque students for several years. The program bridges the gap between Basque students and American families so that students can learn about American culture and practice using English.

Through programs like Kaixo USA, Basque students learn about American culture and practice using conversational English while engaging with their host families in fun and interesting activities. They enjoy bowling, swimming, roller skating, and shopping with their host families. This summer, the host families visited an Amish farm. The Basque students learned about Amish culture, enjoying a horse and buggy ride and a celebration meal. The families also spent a day together at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio. When program coordinator Jeff Smead ran a 5k race, two of the students ran it with him.

Two years ago, Jeff and Sara Smead of Crossview Church (Grabill, Indiana), began recruiting families in their church to host Basque students through Kaixo USA. They hope that the program grows to include more host families and a larger network of churches. They know firsthand the rewards of hosting a student because they have two “Basque daughters.” They have even been to visit them. Jeff describes the ideal host family by saying, “The students love the simple little things. A host family doesn’t have to be rich or influential. We want people who will love on the students like their own.”