In 24 days our one and only daughter, Anna Rae flies off to France as a Rotary International Exchange Student Abroad. Friends and relatives ask "How can you let her go?" and I tell them how hard she has worked to get this opportunity; a lengthy application, 2 grilling interview sessions by groups of Rotarians, and Junior classes taken as a Sophmore in hopes that she will be able to return and graduate with her class. I must say that as the departure date approaches I sometimes wish I had been selfish and said "No, don't go, ten and a half months is far to long to be missing you." But in my heart I know saying "yes" was the right choice for Anna Rae. She is bright, outgoing, inquisitive, and has opinions about everything. I can envision her succeeding as she faces the challenges of learning the language and culture of France and that gives me the courage to let her go.
Last night we went to a Pool Party for students returning from an exchange as well as the outbound students. No one went in the pool, parents and kids just talked nonstop for two hours, sharing experiences and anxieties. One mom reassured me that the occassional sleepless nights I have been having since Anna Rae began the process (last fall) of becoming an exchange student, will end as soon as I hear that she has arrived safely in France; at least that is how it was for her. Another mom said that a care package of Luna Bars was appreciated by her daughter in the beginning months of her exchange. It was a food she could grab without bothering her host family if she got hungry in the night; something that is not too unusual when one's body is adjusting to a new diet. We learned that they eat sugar, not salt, on popcorn in France; kinda like kettlecorn. All the exchange students said they walked just about everywhere they went in their host country or they took efficient mass transit (just a dream here). They all talked of being so down at at least one point and how hard it was to pull themselves out of that sadness and frustration. But even in the face of those low moments they did not want to go home, they were determined to work through the rough spots and they did. None of them would trade their experience living abroad for anything.
These last weeks together I am treasuring our summer leisure time together even more than usual. Yesterday we went blueberry picking in the shadow of Mount Si and then treated ourselves to ice cream at Scotts Frosty Freeze. Today Anna Rae
shared her technology know how and considerable patience to show me how to set up this blog. Whatever will I do without her!