Posts Tagged ‘french visitor’

 She came into your life and turned it upside down. He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service. Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

We hosted a french teenager for a month this past summer.  

For whatever reason, I’ve had a thing about France for quite some time.  In the ’90s, when I went back to university I spent two years studying the language, for fun.  My daughter is now studying it in high school.  When she brought home this opportunity we were most excited. 

We got busy making plans for experiences we could give her while she was here.  We finished up some remodeling projects so she had a comfy space to stay.  We eagerly anticipated learning about her culture. 

What I hadn’t bargained for was the lessons I learned about myself while she was here.  I had never hosted someone in my home for such a long period.  I never spent any significant amount of time with someone who found english a challenge. 

Prior to this experience, I knew in a general sense that I rely on certain non-verbal cues, nuances, when I interact with people.  With our guest, there was the language barrier, as well as her general culture shock.  In the first week, I learned rather quickly how heavily I rely on those cues.  I found myself feeling consistently unsettled and unsure of myself.  I worried whether she was doing OK, and couldn’t read if she REALLY was when she’d say so.  I worried we were boring her and felt pressure to do…something, but didn’t know what. 

Luckily, she soon overcame what we found out was a certain self-consciousness to speak english.  She was actually quite good at it.  

I overcame my disquiet.  I realized if the tables were turned I probably wouldn’t be sitting around stewing about my hosts. I would probably need some time to find my place in a new setting and turn my waking time around. 

We received the gift of a witty, smart girl who quickly fit right into our family.  We had great adventures.  Many of them were simply sharing our ordinariness with someone who found it new.  Some of them were taking her to grand places (e.g. Mt. Rushmore) that we take for granted due to frequent exposure.  Sharing them with someone new is always fun. 

We still enjoy contact with her and look forward to visiting her in her home country. 

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