Miriam from Denmark and Saskia from Germany were both game to join me on my sunrise walk this morning, in their pajamas. Carolina from Chile preferred to sleep, and Wei from Italy doesn't arrive until tomorrow.
When a 15-17 year old decides to go away for a full year, often to a place where she or he barely knows the language, it is an act of impressive bravery. We hosted Max, from Germany for all of last year, and another German boy, Lukas, stayed with us for a few weeks a couple of years before that.
It is an exceptional opportunity for any community, and for any family to take on the challenge and adventure of hosting an international son or daughter for a school year (or even a weekend!). We had our share of troubles, readjusting family chemistry, working out cultural miscommunications, etc. But it has rewards like nothing else. With all of the economic and political strife in the world, it is enormously reassuring to see young people making these connections with others from all over the globe -- which is, I guess, the whole point of the program.
Suddenly these little places on the map that you never thought about before become the home of someone who is sitting at your kitchen table, who loves to pet your dog, or plays a guitar on your sofa, or has a great laugh, or cooks you a delicious meal with ingredients you didn't even know were in your grocery store. Anything that turns the rest of the world into real places with beating hearts will lead us in the right direction.