Imagine what is going through the mind of a 15-year-old girl embarking on a 10-month journey far away from home. Imagine what is going on in the mind of another 15-year-old girl who is about to share a significant part of her time, as well as her friends and family, with someone she has never met. Imagine the families of both young girls who have taken the risk to make this event happen. Both sets of parents were quite aware of the perils and excited about the possibilities. I am sure both girls had no idea what they were about to experience!
All of the advantages of social media do not ameliorate the anxiety one has when meeting a total stranger at the airport. But there we were, at the arrival area, my daughter, wife, and I waiting with a large sign reading “Bienvenido, Mar!” I will never forget that moment when a petite young girl came toward us smiling and notably exhausted. We hugged her, welcomed her, and that began one of the most significant events in her life and in the life of our family.
Fast forward six months later and I will tell you about a simple exchange that we had with Mar over dinner the other night that magnifies what this experience has been for all of us. She will be with us for only four more months, and we all had begun thinking about the consequences of her leaving. Mar quipped, “I can’t wait to come back and visit you next year.” There is little more that needs to be said about the reciprocal and amazing life-long impact Mar and my family have witnessed.
This blog post was written by Peter Friday, a parent of a Grade 10 student at Sewickley Academy.