“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”

While she was growing up, my wife JJ and her family hosted teenagers from other countries several times. JJ has mentioned more than once how much she enjoyed meeting kids from around the world and learning more about their culture. Trying Japanese food for the first time, learning a few choice words in German, getting Swiss chocolates every year from a past family – these are all things she has mentioned with great fondness.

It should come as no great surprise then that my wife and I are currently hosting a high school student from Hamburg Germany. Her name is Sofia and she is absolutely wonderful! Quick to laugh, graceful and smart, She has become a true member of our family in the short time that we have known her.

In my opinion, it takes a lot of courage to travel thousands of miles to live with strangers in a foreign country. I don’t know about you but I can’t imagine taking Pre-Calculus in another language – solving for X is hard enough in English. She is attending Grant High School, the same school I graduated from a million years ago. I had the opportunity to attend Grant’s open house this year and I was quite impressed by the classes Sofia is taking. She is definitely challenging herself and is immersing herself in being a teenager in the US.

Since she has been with our family, Sofia has survived family trips to SunRiver, Ashland, Cannon Beach and to numerous Tae Kwon Doe and swimming practices. She has endured biking to school with a broken bike seat (held together by rubber bands), multiple bike spills (hence the broken bike seat) and cafeteria food at a large high school. Through it all she has displayed remarkable poise and grace.

I look forward to spending more time with her and my family over the upcoming holidays, showing her all that this beautiful state has to offer. Now, I find myself saying again; my wife was right – this was a good idea. The only thing I am not looking forward to is saying goodbye to Sofia in February, I’m sure I’ll be a complete mess.

Maybe we can all learn something from Sofia. We can use her courage as inspiration to take that first step in a new direction, whether it is in our personal or professional life – I know I will.

Thanks for Reading!

Family trip to Ashland, OR for the Shakespeare Festival
Family trip to Ashland, OR for the Shakespeare Festival

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