When I was a teen, I was able to participate in three exchanges/excursions. The first was to Quebec. The second was to France. And, the third was back to Quebec to see the family from the first trip!
My time in France was the first time I had ever left North America. It was a mind blowing and life opening experience for me. The first part of my stay was not very good. I was placed with a difficult family and I asked to be re-placed. The second part of my stay was outstanding. I was placed with an amazing family in the city of Nancy, in the province of Lorraine (pronounced "Loren" like in "Sophia Loren"). This was such a happy time in my life that I vowed if I ever had a daughter I would name her after this time in my life. (And, I did! She is named "Lauren" as in "Sophie Loren" :)
Three years ago, we decided to open up our home to exchange students. We have now welcomed students from Mexico, Brazil, China, Spain and soon Austria). Each and every one of these students has become a part of our family, and each holds a very special place in our hearts. This morning, the second student we have welcomed from Spain left for home. I overslept, but was able to run out to stop the car in my stocking feet to give her a hug good-bye--with tears streaming down my face. So very hard.
A friend recently asked--"Is it hard to have those students? Do they require a lot of extra work? Do you miss your privacy?" My reply was, "Not at all! It is just hard to say good-bye."
The world is a better place when we reach out in friendship to every part of the world we can.
Dr. Jillian Roberts