I am so tired I just stuck my hand in my coffee instead of the bowl of peanuts I made for breakfast. Yes, it is PEANUT time. I have to do my part for the local farmers and enjoy the bounty of their crops. Yum. I just love this time of year when the smell of peanuts is in the air, cotton is in bloom in the fields, and trucks full of harvest clog the roads. There's a sense of order and season to it all.
I am tired because we stayed up late last night while our darling Norwegian girls made Norwegian pancakes for us. Then we all had to look at the NYC pictures again. It was hard to say good-bye to them this morning. They've been here just under two weeks, but it feels like much longer. They have taught our family so much and not at all the things we expected. I know their mamas will be glad to wrap their arms around them when they arrive tomorrow. I pray for their safe travels and seamless re-entry into their daily routine.
So now back to writing. I've been struggling with the process lately. Partly because I've been busy and partly because I feel like I'm at a crossroads. I have several beginnings that need endings (middle grade novels), some work that needs polishing (early readers), and some picture books that need creating. Of course, my house needs cleaning and there are countless other distractions about, but I KNOW I need to stick with my writing. Some days it is harder than others, and this WEEK it's been hard. However, I have been productive, just not like I'd like.
Enough about that.
The world of exchange students is very different than it used to be. When I was in high school and exchange students came, they had never seen American television, heard American music or seen any shots of America outside of pictures. They had no clue (or very little) about the daily life of Americans. Our girls came from Norway speaking better English than half the people in eastern North Carolina, listening to all the same bands and watching the same television shows my kids see. They knew quite a bit about American culture from the television although much of it was greatly exaggerated or extreme, as you can imagine. So in many ways, their time here was not as much of a jolt as it might have been 25 years ago. In some ways, that makes for a better experience because they can get past all the 'distractions' and talk about the deep differences and similarities of our cultures. I enthusiastically recommend you all to take a young person into your home if you have the chance.
WAYS EXCHANGE STUDENTS CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
1. You have the opportunity to see the beauty and detail of your own country through their eyes which leads to more appreciation of the world around us.
2. Your family pulls together to host them. Everyone makes sacrifices to have two more people in the house. We have to cooperative and work together, and that is a beautiful thing.
3. Your children get awesome role models. These courageous, smart girls who aren't afraid to travel and experience new things--all with grace and gratefulness. It's good for your kids to see someone genuinely appreciative for things they may see/eat/experience on a regular basis.
4. You learn humility and are reminded of the old adage "Don't judge a book by its cover". Many of these students look and dress quite different from our culture. Many of them are heavily tattooed, wear different make-up and clothing. It would be easy to make a snap judgement.
5. You learn a lot about the government and daily lives of another country that, no matter how crazy our politicians have been acting lately, makes you appreciate democracy and non-socialized health care. We are so blessed to have such good medical care available to us in the U.S. Expensive? Yes, but at least it's good.
6. You get to fall in love and gain a renewed faith in the young people who will be our future.
I was tearful as I told them good-bye this morning. They'd taught me a lot more than I gave them. I felt so humbled and honored to have had them in our home. We promised to keep in touch and connect again. We invited them to come back during their gap year next year and talked of visiting them. But the reality is, we may never see them again.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.