Nearly four years ago, Suzi and I received an email from our school saying an exchange student from South Korea needed a host family. We’d had an exchange student for a few weeks a few summers prior, so the idea intrigued me. I zapped off a quick email to Suzi asking what she thought—she’d already seen the email and thought the idea was great. A few emails later and we’d arranged to have another teenager living in our house.
Getting an exchange student was a little scary. We didn’t know anything about her. We hadn’t talked to her. We hadn’t emailed her. We didn’t know what she would be like, whether she would fit in.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. We did know one big thing about her. This girl is courageous. She was traveling halfway around the world alone. She was going to live with a family she didn’t know and eat their food. She would study high school in a language she had learned in elementary school. And she was on her way.
We arranged to have another Korean student with us when we went to the airport to pick up Yuna. We left early, but apparently not early enough. The whole way to the airport, we kept expecting to come upon the accident that was causing the stop-and-go traffic. But there wasn’t one. We just hadn’t planned enough travel time for how bad traffic can be. We arrived at the airport late—to pick up our exchange student in a strange airport where she didn’t know anyone and had no reason to expect us to be late. We were chagrined. But Yuna took it in stride.
Over the past four years, Yuna became a member of our family. We helped her with her studies her freshman year, took her to her church, to her flute lessons, and to her new friends’ homes. We took her on family trips to the beach, kayaking, to Sacramento, to Zoo Lights, to the rhododendron gardens, even to a three-day-long family reunion. We took our traditional first-day-of-school pictures of Yuna. And this last week, we took graduation pictures.
Four years passed too fast. Yuna’s now gone. Her room is empty. And the house is quiet — much too quiet.
We miss our Yuna girl. :’-(