My exchange student has gone to a new home. After a month of sending almost daily pleading emails to the American Councils, a new host family appeared at my door and took her and her luggage away.
I hope her new family can handle her better than I could.
Perhaps she’ll show up for meals at their home.
Perhaps she’ll accompany their family to cultural events instead of claiming she can’t go because she has to study. The new family has two teenagers who attend the same school, one of whom is in some of her classes.
Perhaps they’ll be able to get her out of her room where she watches Turkish YouTube shows. (The exchange program requires that exchange students get private bedrooms. It also requires that the exchange students spend time in family areas of the house.)
Perhaps they’ll be able to get her to help with making salads, clearing the table, and even walking the dog. I could barely get her to wash her own clothes. Not her sheets. Not replace the toilet paper, or clean her hair out of the sink.
We were her 2nd American family. She is now on her third.
My life is returning to peace.
I can lie in bed past 6 AM, because I don’t need to make the hot breakfast that she won’t show up to eat. I can serve dinner without calling her several times. She never responded to my calls, but sometimes she deigned to join us about 15 minutes later. If I want to serve dessert, there will be some in my freezer. She wasn’t here to take them all for lunch and midnight snacks, to feed that sweet tooth she was so proud of. I can go to the museum when I want. I don’t have to clear my plans with her in case they might interfere with hers.
I feel like a freed kidnap victim. Or a freed prisoner. I was her servant and I had to pay her expenses.
It jars my sensibilities to get stuck with food, transportation, entertainment, water and utility bills for someone who won’t even try to be a guest, let alone a part of the family.
I’d like to forget I ever met her. But she mail-ordered stuff and she didn’t give us her forwarding address. She also didn’t bother to tell the post office. So I have to run her packages over to her school when they arrive. But she was only here 6 weeks. This will come to an end.
I’ve ordered some gadgets that are supposed to get her hair out of my now clogged drains. I put a screen over the shower drain and explained why it was there. But she kept kicking it aside. I asked her to limit her showers to 10 minutes. But my monster water bill says she ignored this request, too. Eventually everything she broke will be fixed or replaced or we’ll be fine without it.
While I’m relieved, I’m also sad. I had such good fantasies about exploring my city with a teenager from another country who was eager to see and do everything. I was going to discuss world events with somebody who had a unique point of view. She was from Kazakhstan. She was here during Putin’s capture of Crimea. All she said was “Crimea has always been part of Russia.” It was as if she had memorized this one untrue line, and had no other thoughts on the subject. I was going to cook new dishes with someone from another country. Watch movies with someone from another culture.
Her goal was to study hard and get into a US College because that would give her prestige back home. She said that US Education is inferior to Kazakhstan education and her favorite teacher told her not to believe anything that is taught in US Schools. So she was just memorizing to pass the tests.
At least she’s gone!