We said goodbye to Akie today, with tears in my eyes. Juliana called me a sap. I just loved having her with me and sharing this experience together and I miss her already.
It was such a joy to have her stay with our family. We all loved sharing stories and laughter and bonding together. She was absolutely delightful and we all enjoyed her company in different ways.
Our family bonded through this shared experience too. I admired how Juliana was a little mother to Akie, making sure she was happy and entertained and understood. She was patient and kind and loving and unselfish and I loved watching her be the best hostess, even giving up her room for her.
Charlie made welcome signs and presented her with a handmade goodbye card that he translated into Japanese and English, all on his own. He played kendamas and war with her and loved having her with us.
Christian always stopped by her room when he came home, greeting her and asking about her day. He joined us when he could and was warm and welcoming when he was busy.
Jeff had fun translating words into English, Dutch, German and Japanese, seeing the patterns and making connections. He was there to greet her when she arrived, took her to see San Francisco, the Redwoods and Santa Cruz, and was there to say goodbye at the end too.
We all had a special connection with her and for this I am grateful. I loved how she enjoyed small bowls of soup, rice with sprinkled toppings, and long bath rituals. She was polite, kind, friendly, curious, warm and genuinely happy. When she left, I asked if I could hug her and she reached out to give me a hug with a smile. I loved her!
Our family shared an awesome experience and shared our life with a stranger who became like a daughter and sister.
I highly recommend hosting a foreign exchange student. There are so many benefits to both the hosts and the student and it makes the world a little smaller, after all.
Life is good.