Monday, April 22, 2013

AFS: Touch a Life, Connect with the World

Thea was a foreign exchange student from Norway.  She lived with us for a year, ten years ago.  She shared her culture, language and poetry, literature and food.  Her smile, her successes and fears, her strength and  her good humor, her enthusiasm for life.  For a year she was part of our family, sister, daughter and friend.

In a recent note she wrote:

Right now I am sitting in a brownstone building in Brooklyn, eating a granola bar and drinking a cup of coffee. I arrived yesterday and I am staying in NYC until the 28th of April. I am here because I have been invited to speak about Georgian refugees at a conference at Columbia University tomorrow. I can't help to think that somehow my life took a turn staying with you guys ten (!!) years ago; my interest in refugees began when I volunteered with the Somali refugees with you guys, and my interest in Russian began with Shamshod( Thea's exchange brother from Uzbekistan who was our AFS son at the same time) teaching me the cyrillic alphabet at Starbucks in Squirrel Hill. I just wanted to let you know I really appreciate it and I am so happy you were my hosts. I've had so many adventures since then that I am incredibly grateful for, and it all began with you!
I wish I had time to visit you guys while I'm here, but taking a look at your pictures of the massive amounts of sand everywhere I think I might have to come back sometime the climate is a bit more forgiving:)
Hope all is well with you,

She credits her success in life in part to her time spent with us.  It is gratifying to know.  I suggest that we all need to let the people who have influenced us positively in some small way know what they have done and that we are grateful.

On the other hand these kids who come to a new country alone and have to navigate the teen life in a new world, a new high school, a new language, make friends and a new life already have what it takes to succeed.

Thanks, Thea.  We are happy for you and proud too.

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