About five years ago, oh sheesh almost six years ago now, Heather brought up the idea of sponsoring an exchange student. I have to admit that I was NOT keen on the idea of another human living in our house, let alone someone we did not know. I also had to chuckle at the name “exchange student”. That should mean I send a daughter away and I get one back in exchange. Wrong! This program should more aptly be called “add additional human” program. Because that’s what it really is, my household human population increased from four to five.
Although I was apprehensive, Heather did convince me to move forward with a simple statement followed by a simple question: “We feel our life has been blessed. So why wouldn’t we do this for another?” I no longer had an argument.
In August of 2015, I first met my Japanese daughter, Narumi. She was a great kid (still is). Did I have my frustrations with her? I absolutely did. Was everyday full of sunshine and puppy dogs? Heck no. But was it a great experience? Emphatically yes! In fact, I also have a Finnish daughter, Minttu, who was part of our family for about six months as she completed the last part of her exchange program a year later.
I am still in touch with both of my “foreign” daughters although I hear from Narumi more often, which makes sense since she was with us longer. This past week, Sydney came down ready for school and I could have sworn she was wearing Narumi’s old clothes. Nope. They were totally Sydney’s clothes, but also completely Narumi’s style. I snapped a picture and sent if off to Narumi. The next day I received this pic from Narumi saying “still my style”.
Why am I sharing this with you? It is to share a hope I have. Just as I watch winter begin to wane, I’m hoping that we are also watching the COVID pandemic come to an end as well. The data seems to be promising as more of the population is vaccinated (I get my 2nd shot in a week; Heather receives her first tomorrow – that’s a heck of a birthday present). My hope is to take my wife to a baseball game this summer. My hope is to be able to travel with my family again. My hope is to be able to visit my International daughters soon. My hope is that you are able to carry on with your life as well, as you wish to live it.
If you are like me and itching to travel, here are some tips you may find helpful in your planning: https://www.nextavenue.org/start-planning-your-bucket-list-vacation-now/
If you’re really courageous (or know someone else you may be interested) and want to open your home to a student studying abroad, feel free to contact me about our experience. There are many organizations that facilitate student exchanges, but we were connected with Youth For Understanding (www.YFU.org). One of my closest buddies worked with his local Rotary in New York and hosted students as well.
Please remember that we are “here” and available for you as well. If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email. If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them.
As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy!