The following interview took place on April 23 2020 with Maria and Edwin Corcoran in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

How long have you been a host family, and what inspired you to start hosting students? 

This is our third year hosting students with EIL now.  A friend of ours recommended that we give it a go.  We don’t have kids of our own, so we thought it would be nice to give a child the experience of living in another country and another culture.  It has been the best experience!  We show them our culture, but we also get to learn about their culture too. 

We treat the students as if they were our own.  In our minds, they are our children for the time they are with us… so, we now have a German son and daughter, and a Japanese son too.  

What difference does hosting make to your household and day-to-day lives? 

You know, it’s not as big of a difference as you’d think.  

Before students arrive, we do always worry in case they won’t like us, our cultures might clash or we won’t get along…but as soon as they arrive, that all disappears.  As we get to know each other, we all adapt to living together.  When the students walk into the house for the first, we tell them “this is your home now too”, and this helps them feel comfortable. 

There’s always great chats when they get home from school. We could talk about everything and anything! It’s also a great opportunity and motivation to keep yourself busy.  You get to see your life through someone else’s eyes.  

Do you have a highlight of your hosting experience so far?

The highlight is the kids themselves, and being able to learn about their culture. 

The boy we hosted this year was from Japan. When he was in school or writing letters, he started using our surname for his time in Ireland…so he was Haruki Corcorcan!  We told him that he didn’t have to, but he wanted to. 

Haruki used to love seeing the stars at nighttime, and would often take the dog out in the evening just to see the stars.  One night, he saw a shooting star for the first time.  We couldn’t get home fast enough, so he could call his family in Japan to tell them that he’d seen a real shooting star!  It was wonderful. Having students with us makes us realise the things in life that we take for granted, like the stars. 

Haruki had to leave quite quickly and unexpectedly once the COVID19 situation worsened, how was that experience?

We were really upset.  When I dropped him off at the airport in Cork, I cried in the car the whole way back to Clonmel.  It was like saying goodbye to my own son.  We had so much planned for the last 2 months of his programme but it wasn’t meant to be. He’s already hoping to come back for 3-4 weeks at another time, just like another one of our students who is coming to visit in October, so we have that to look forward to.  He has also invited us to visit him in Japan…so now we just need to win the lotto! 

Have you been in touch with him since he departed?

Oh he texts us everyday! It’s great to stay in contact. 

Are you looking forward to hosting again? 

Yes, yes!  I think we might be hosting a student from Italy next, and we’ve never hosted someone from Italy so we are looking forward to learning about them and their culture. 

We have host communities throughout Ireland, and if you are interested in hosting a student, please contact us at [email protected]