As I drove into work today, I was watching the school buses pass by filled with children on their way to school – including my own – and thinking about how September has the feeling of a new beginning. We have hundreds of new international students arriving and getting started in a new country with a new language, new family and new friends. They are immersed in a new culture and a new school working their best to absorb all of these new things. At the same time, our host families are embarking on a new journey – some with children of their own that they must help navigate through the newness of it all.
As those who support the fundamental principles behind international exchange – the chance to learn about a new culture and perspective and to grow as a person – it is really important that we acknowledge the excitement and opportunity and energy of “new”, but that we also acknowledge the stress and fear and sadness of “new”. While we want to emphasize the importance of making the most of each moment of each day for these young people, we also need to bring the expectations back to a manageable level for everyone.
Each day is new, and each day is an opportunity to start again. Maybe today is the day that jet lag hits, or yesterday was the day that your student tried a new food that didn’t settle so well. But tomorrow is always another day. Maybe next week the initial newness will wear off, and the reality of having teenagers will hit hard, but don’t forget that each day is another chance for everything to be new again. Have fun and enjoy. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity – but don’t forget, on those days when the adventure feels a little too much, that tomorrow is another day. And it is new.