Johnny asked that I blog about my experience with our foreign exchange student. First, let me tell you how this all came about. About five years ago I had read, in my church bulletin, a blurb about Japanese exchange students needing a place to stay for a month. At the time (before my daughter was born) I thought that it might be an interesting experience. Joe and I contacted the organization and made the arrangements for her arrival.Then September 11th happened and the program was put on hold. End of story.
Fast forward to August 2006. I received a phone call from the same organization telling me that they had a high school student from Japan, already here in New Jersey, who's host family had to back out of their obligation to have her stay with them. When asked if we would be interested in hosting this girl, my initial thought was something along the lines of NO WAY MAN! I already have a four year old at home, why would I want a teenager too?
Then, my conscience started working on me. Here is this girl, who just traveled all the way from Tokyo, and she doesn't even have a place to live. My husband, who is a foreigner himself (having come from Hong Kong when he was a college student) was very interested in having her stay with us, but left the decision pretty much up to me. Five days later a cute, shy, little wisp of a girl stood on my doorstep and we invited her in.
It has been almost two months since she has joined our family. For the most part, it has been a very positive experience. She is a very sweet girl, has a good sense of humor, enjoys watching movies, eats everything I put in front of her, reads Leah stories and is an excellent student (all A's so far, with the exception of a B in History).
Of course, having a complete stranger living at your house takes some getting used to. I now have one more mouth to feed, more laundry to do and I am in the car a whole lot more often than I would like to be. Then there are times like Saturday, when we were able bring her to her first Broadway show. She was so thrilled and appreciative that it makes all the extra laundry worth while.
To be honest, I can't imagine not having her at home with us. She will be staying here until the end of the school year in May and I already I know how much she will be missed. Would it do this again? It is hard to say. I feel that we have been spoiled with having such a nice young girl staying with us and possibly would have the same expectation for the next student. Fair, no - True, maybe.
As a side note, I do have to point out something a little selfish on my part. When deciding to have her stay with us, a little part of my decision was the fact that having someone else at home would help me fill up my time while we endure the long adoption wait. Maybe not the most noble of reasons, but there it is.