Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Japanese students

We recently put our name forward to be a host family for a Japanese student through our daughters High School. We were allocated a 13 year old girl called Manami to stay with us for 5 days during her school excursion to Australia. We have emailed back and forth and have built up a lovely anticipation of her arrival.

At the eleventh hour we had a phone call from the school. There was a problem. Another host family were ill and they needed to find somewhere for their student for the first few days until they recovered. So today we have run around preparing not for one but two students. There was a brief amount of info given to us about the extra girl, Akari, one thing being that she was allergic to milk. I arranged to leave work early to call in to the supermarket on my way home so I could buy a soy alternative. I panicked that I wouldn't have enough food so what started as a basket for a carton of soy milk turned into a trolley of food for $198.92 !

We had half an hour at home after the school run to make up a second bed and prepare dinner. Then we jumped in the car to collect our two girls. They looked so little as they stepped off the coach and collected their bags and grouped together waiting to be introduced to their families. When Mana saw us she looked so excited and had a smile from ear to ear. Akari was not aware that her host family was ill and so she was told in front of us. She looked so fragile and lost. Her face seemed confused as we tried to introduce ourselves. I so wanted to hug her and tell her everything was going to be ok. That we would look after her. That we were delighted to have her stay. I tried to sum all my emotion and mothering into four little words.

This is what came out...

"...I have soy milk"

That's not going to go down in history as one of my most eloquent moments is it?! It seemed to break the tension though as she smiled nervously and bowed saying "Thank-you, thank-you"

We are home now and we have been given some beautiful Japanese gifts. The kids have laughed and played together and our Japanese guests are fed and showered and tucked up in bed with hot water bottles and fleecy blankets. I hope they feel welcome and I hope that they enjoy the next few days being a part of our family.

5 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. Hahaha! I love it! "I have soy milk." I'm glad you are all having a lovely time.

  2. Hello!! I'm Kumi, Akari's aunt. Thank you soooooooooooo much for taking care of her. It must have been a shocking situation for Akari to hear about her host family while other students are welcomed by their host families but as I read your brog, we're so relieved to know that the teachers arranged for her a wonderful family like you.
    Sorry to send you a comment so sudden but my sister (Akari's mother) let me know that I can see her photo and your comment on your blog and after I read it I really want to say thank you for welcoming her.
    I really like your 4 words " I have soy milk."

    I hope you have fun with Akari ♥ & Mana ♥

  3. I have to give it to you do know how to make a person feel welcome! I laughed out loud when I heard you words of encouragement and welcome ~ "I have soy milk". Too funny!

  4. That was so very generous of you and your family to take in the other girl without a second thought, and to make her feel at home. I can't imagine how scary that could have been, to be only 13 and to discover , only after arriving in a foreign country, that you wouldn't be staying where you had initially expected. She's so very lucky that you & your family were part of this exchange program -- I'm sure you helped her feel right at home!

    I'm really intrigued by the photo of the gifts they brought -- what were they?

  5. Inside all the cute wrapping we got the individually wrapped tea bags that are at the front of the photo, a make-up bag, calligraphy sets, tiny children's erasers in the shape of sushi! An apron, pyjamas, hair-clips and scrunchies, juggling balls.... The list is endless!