Having an exchange student is a little bit like leaving the country without ever leaving home.
It's a unique experience to get the chance to hear about someone else's culture and lifestyle without traveling to that country. Personally, I'm fascinated by the differences in the way other people live, and just as fascinated by our commonalities even though we are divided by 5,032 miles.
We are humbled to have the opportunity to host a young woman from Argentina for two weeks. Not only is she kind, gracious and engaging, but she speaks fantastic English. This is very helpful considering my older daughter is the only one in the house who has a command of Spanish.
It's fun to see her blending in so naturally with my daughter and her American teenage friends. It's also nice to see a young woman who's interested in trying new things and learning about our culture. My daughter will have the same opportunities when she visits Argentina to stay with a host family in May.
On one hand, it's hard to imagine sending your child halfway around the world. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine not doing it if the chance arises. For this reason, I am keeping in close touch with our student's mother through WhatsApp, and I hope I have the same communication when my daughter travels next month.
Our student's name is Sol, which means "sun" in Spanish. And she has truly brought a ray of sunshine into our house. One great side benefit of having an exchange student is that my girls are on their best behavior, so there's no fighting.
There's also a lot of food in the refrigerator because I'm planning to cook this week since we have a house guest, something my girls aren't used to on a regular basis. So, there are many side perks to having an exchange student.
I hope this trip will provide Sol with lots of rich new experiences and exciting adventures, memories to be kept for a lifetime. One thing I can already tell, however, is that whatever she gets out of it, we will also be rewarded tenfold by having met her.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.