This story was sent by Debbie Lamb, a host mother for an international student at Saint Patrick Saint Vincent High School in Vallejo, California.
Three years ago, we opened our door to a new member of our family. We didn’t realize it at the time, but our family had increased from four to five. Jennifer had arrived in the United States for her Sophomore year in High School and she had chosen us to be her host family. Her English was very good and her study skills were impressive.
We all had our ups and downs since Jennifer arrived. Our daughters suffered occasional jealousy over perceived special treatment, coordination of household chores, and various other teenage girl stuff. But now they rejoice in Jennifer’s accomplishments and struggle with saying goodbye to her as she graduates high school. Luckily for us, she chose a college only five hours away and we know we will get to see her again and often.
We have learned a lot from Jennifer, like how to cook better Chinese food, that donuts are a perfectly good dessert, and that nearly every meal we make needs more spice!
We were able to introduce Jennifer to a lot of things such as artichokes, turkey on Thanksgiving, Christmas cookie decorating, celebrating Easter by coloring eggs, and how to play charades.
We were also able to take her to new places. At the end of her second year with us we invited her to join us on our 11-day family vacation to the East Coast. We took her and our girls to a few college tours in Boston, to the Atlantic Ocean, New York City, and Maine. We also took her with us to visit Grandpa four different times in Southern California. Finally, after being accepted to UC Santa Barbara, we got to take her to see her new college so she could be sure she was making the right decision.
There were many days when Jennifer also got to join us volunteering. She walked around a Lake in Oakland to support a technology training program for disadvantaged adults. She helped clean the local elementary school on Martin Luther King Day of Service. She picked up trash on California’s Coastal Cleanup Day, and she helped at a documentary screening event in Chinatown, San Francisco.
Finally, after three years we got to meet her parents as we all watched our girl graduate from high school. It was an awesome day, capping off an awesome three years together. We are so glad this isn’t goodbye!