Bringing the World to Us
In addition to preparing for our RTW trip (which is now at the 1-year-away omg-it's-really-going-to happen holy-cow-we-better-get-our-stuff-together phase), Anne and I agreed that we could use this opportunity to gain perspective and learn more about some of the cultures that we'll be experiencing on the road. A year from now we will be living with a Peruvian family for almost 4 months before travelling through Chile - a huge adjustment for our family (especially with our Spanish skills where they are now). Why not start now getting used to living beyond our comfortable family dynamics and cultural norms? So, in August, we'll be welcoming an exchange student into our home.
Juan ("Juanchi" is his nickname) will be coming from Santiago, Chile to Seattle to live with us while he attends Ballard High School. We connected with Juanchi through AFS, which has been around for quite some time. We've been using Skype to talk with Juanchi in Santiago, and he's a really nice kid, looking forward to coming to Seattle and having an adventure. Leah is already trying to win him over to her music by sending him clips from YouTube. He has a little sister as well, and gets a big kick out of Leah calling him her "big big brother".
We met his family on Skype as well. They are nervous but excited for him and very proud that he won the scholarship to come here, He has never been out of Chile before and is sure to see the USA lifestyle from a fresh perspective. He's big into soccer (like a few others in his adoptive family), and is hoping to play on the BHS team in the spring. Juanchi already has pretty solid English skills, which I'm sure will get a lot stronger while he's here. It will a joy to share what we love about the Pacific Northwest with him. Anne and I (and the kids) are looking forward to having him stay with us and becoming part of the family.
Of course, all of this is not without effort on our parts - in addition to the (relatively minimal) AFS paperwork, and (as-of-yet incomplete) BHS enrollment process, we are prepping the house to have a 17-year-old come live with us. We have spent the last couple of days cleaning out Leah's room - amazing what sorts of "treasures" you find in a 9-yr-old girls room (under the bed, in the closet, behind the desk) - all of which fall into the category of "oh no that's my favorite you can't throw that out I have to keep that!". Luckily, Leah gets distracted by Alex sometimes, leaving Anne to strategically choose which items are saved, and which are "recycled". Next, we'll paint and get the room fully transformed from 9-yr-old girl room to 17-yr-old boy room.
We'll be posting more info on Juanchi (and probably let him make a guest post or two), but I need to end with a bit of a request to those of our readers in the Seattle area. AFS is frantically looking for host families for students that have already been accepted into the program and placed in the Seattle area, but don't yet have a family willing to take them. These are all great kids and they can be placed on a short term basis. If you are at all remotely interested, I encourage you to connect with the Seattle AFS coordinator Heidi Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to us for more details, and our thoughts.