Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rites of Passage for Us All

I have been enjoying talking with Gianluca's mother online. It helps me to get a window into his world and adjust to make him feel welcome in the United States. I marvel at the ease of communication with today's technology. If I think about it I'm really in the same situation as her, being that I'm sending my son abroad this year to be cared for by another family. What that means for me is letting go and trusting that all will be well. Gianluca's mother will have to do the same. She seems very capable of doing this, for which I am grateful.

It's a big responsibility to care for someone else's child. As a host parent you are signing up to really be there for your student 150% of the time. Not only are they adjusting to a new country and city, they are adjusting to a new family who probably does things remarkably different from their own. This is a scary prospect for students and host families alike. It's also tough on the parents that are sending their son or daughter out into the world. They are choosing to believe that everything will be okay, and as host parents we do our part to make them feel at ease. What that looks like for me is clear communication and that can be challenging when you speak two very different languages. It can be quite comical at times. I like that I will learn Italian by default, simply because it's useful to communicate in this way, and culturally it's respectful. We have learned that the translators on Google are not reliable and will often give you a jumble of words that when thrown together make absolutely no sense. I'd like to think that I can fall back on my knowledge of Spanish, but Italian and Spanish are quite different. I do find that I can read Italian and understand it a little easier because of my experience with Spanish, but there is a lot to learn.

My daughter will leave for her year in Scotland on August 2nd. My son will leave for his year in Norway on August 17th. Sandwiched in there is Gianluca's arrival in Seattle. I think we're going to be okay, but there seems to be a lot of buzz around here. I'm trying to finish up my summer quarter so I can focus on these events. So much to look forward to, so many changes that require strength and grace.

Deep breath.

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