Brian and Shelly Lamb of Avon Lake opened the doors of their home to 15-year-old Russian exchange student Irina “Ira” Vasilyeva in August, and they say she’s become family to them since then.
Their other children, two boys ages 11 and 13, have adapted just as well, and having a teenage girl in the house as a big sister has been an exciting change for them. The entire family is ecstatic about hosting Ira for nearly a year.
“I saw an ad in the newspaper for the program, and I just thought, I want to do this — I want to show my kids that the world is bigger than what they see around here in this little suburb,” Shelly Lamb said.
It didn’t take long for the rest of the family to approve the idea, and within a few weeks, the family was going through stringent home inspections and interviews to prepare for the arrival of Ira.
Ira joined the Lambs in August, and her transition to life in America has been very smooth.
“She’s so bright — her English gets better and better every day,” Brian Lamb said. “She’s making straight A’s at school, as well.”
Ira is involved in several extracurricular activities, including a community service organization and the track team.
“We have only started warm-ups and stretching,” she said. “But I thought it would be cool to try it out.”
Ira said she loves the hustle and bustle of the holiday season here and has enjoyed all of the Christmas traditions that her host family has shown to her.
And she has no problem fitting in with the other students at Avon Lake High School.
“Sure, there was some culture shock,” said. “But once that was over, I opened up, and my classmates asked me a lot of questions about Russia. They were very curious about my country. I’ve made a lot of new friends since then.”
This is the first time the Lambs have hosted an exchange student, but they say it won’t be their last.
“It’s been such a great experience already, we’ll definitely consider doing it again,” Brian Lamb said. “I told her that I want my oldest son to go to Russia when he is 16 to do the very same thing, so she’d better get a bedroom ready.”
Alex, the older son, said that having a big sister has been an interesting experience.
“She always tells me that I dress inappropriately for school,” joked Alex, who frequently wears sports jerseys to class.
Ira must be fitting in just perfectly with the Lambs — after all, such constructive criticism is what big sisters are for.
Contact Lee Ann Mullen at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.