Internationally Speaking

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My gosh, it’s been nearly a year since I posted last. I’m not sure why I stopped blogging, but it’s not like I haven’t been thinking about posts I would like to write if I had more time.

Lots has happened in a year, way too much to be contained in a single post. When we got back from Korea and our visit with Megan’s host family, we got ready to be a host family ourselves to a girl from Italy. Sara arrived near the end of August, and stayed with us in Erin’s old room until she went to her second host family just after New Year’s. The photo above is Sara with her prom date, Jameison.

When Megan returned from Korea last summer, she got a job waitressing at a restaurant downtown. Jamieson already worked there, and they became friends. Megan told him about her year in Korea, and Jamieson (who is half Korean) decided to apply to be a Rotary exchange student, too. His first choice of going to Korea was denied for some reason I don’t know. Through Megan, he also met Sara when school started, and he decided to go to Italy next year for his Rotary exchange.

This fall we also became a host family to an international student who is here at the college in town. Her name is Michelle, which isn’t her real name but it’s the name she prefers. She is Korean, but her family has lived in Shanghai since she was five, and she attended an international high school where she learned English, and unless you knew English wasn’t her native language, you wouldn’t be able to tell! Since she lives in China, she also learned Chinese. She said she startled some of the Chinese students by being able to talk with them in Chinese.

She doesn’t live with us, like Sara did, but we invite her over every now and then. We loaned her a floor fan for her dorm room in August, and she came over to have Thanksgiving and Easter dinners with us. We’ve taken her shopping for winter clothes, and to a Korean barbeque restaurant in Iowa City when she was desperate for food from home. She is so adorable and friendly, and as smart as can be. She loves languages (obviously) and signed up for a Spanish class fall semester, along with all her chemistry and math classes. Unfortunately, Spanish ended up being the class that did her in, and she dropped it.

Of course she met Sara along the way, so this Saturday Michelle, Sara, Megan and I are going to the international grocery in Des Moines, out to lunch and do a little shopping. It was Michelle’s idea, because it will probably be the last time she will get to see Sara, since she’ll be leaving for Shanghai when her finals are over, and Sara will be back in Italy when Michelle returns in the fall. It makes me think this is all worth it, when I realize they wouldn’t even have met if we hadn’t opened our home to them both.

It’s so easy to just exist in your own little corner of the world, going to work, coming home to eat and sit on the couch all night, and I am just as guilty of that as the next person. For me, it’s an effort to reach out and be sociable, but as I look back, it really didn’t take much time or work at all, and it provides me with a wealth of happy memories and hopes for the future. I talked to Sara’s current host dad, Lowell, last night at the promenade. Lowell is a Rotary member, and I made sure he knew we would host another student any time. We’ll also host another college student this fall, so Michelle will have a “host sister” (or brother), and we’ll do things with both of them.

There are so many more things to blog about, and I will. I’m starting a square foot garden this spring. I’m trying to learn how to cook in a Sun Oven (if it will stop raining and be sunny on days I’m home…) I’m learning how to make paper flowers, because a second shop in town is consigning my cards now, and this new shop also does event and wedding planning. She was excited about the handmade books I showed her, and asked if I also made guest books for weddings and graduations. Of course I do, umm, or I will, soon… Erin is transferring to the University of Iowa this fall, and Megan will be graduating in a few weeks, so we have all that planning to do. Still trying to study Italian so I can visit Sara and her family in Italy someday (every time I talk to Sara’s mom on Facebook she repeats her invitation for us to come visit!), and working on my online TEFL certification just in case I find myself living overseas and in need of a job…it could happen.

It’s all good.

Hopefully my next post won’t be so long.

 

 

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