Just about one year ago, I was meeting the Harvey Newcomb family for the first time and I liked them instantly. They felt like friends: open, welcoming, irreverent, and generally really great. Together we got their application done, looked at a couple students’ applications and they decided to host Aline.
Aline stayed a little after the program ended until her father was able to meet her in the United States. Together, Ally & her father left her host family’s home to explore some big American cities before returning home to Belgium.
Jessica shared the following note to Aline on Facebook.
This time a year ago, Chris and I were in Maine and as I scrolled through Facebook I saw a post looking for host parents for foreign exchange students. Alyssa was headed to Australia, and feeling blessed for her opportunity for an amazing journey, we wanted to provide another girl with the same. We talked about how exciting it would be for our girls, the great experience and culture it would bring to our home and though this still rings true a year later… the impact you have made on our lives couldn’t have been expected nor explained.
I watched as my children cried this morning during their goodbyes, begging you not to leave. I watched Chris fight back tears as he held you in a final hug. I watched the tears stream down your face as we pulled away from the house. And I watched you walk away at the station on to your next journey. I fell to pieces as I drove away…an hour and half of tears and thoughts.
I cry and smile as I think about how I have watched you for a year now and I couldn’t be more proud and thankful. Your courage for adventure, your kindness towards others, your hard work and determination inspire me. You have grown into a beautiful woman inside and out. I could only be honored if my children follow in the same footsteps. There is no doubt in my mind you will be great and successful in life. Your artistic and musical talents amaze me, amazement only to be trumped by your passion and drive.
I cannot believe our time has gone so quickly, our year of memory making finished. While it is certainly important to remember where you came from, I surely hope you remember where you have been, I hope your time here has left an impact on you as big as the one you have left on us. You are now part of our family, oceans apart, you will always be one of my children. From Florida to Maine, our family is your family and our friends… your friends. Your pursuit of happiness and adventure will surely lead you to cross paths with us again soon. Until that day, I will think of you often and miss you greatly. We wish you well!!!
Jessica, you are talking about the impact I made on your lives, but you can’t imagine how greatly all of you impacted mine. I couldn’t describe how much I learned during this year, and it is all thanks to you. Of course, I got to know more about American history, about personal finance, about guitar, but the greatest lessons I learned were life lessons, and these had nothing to do with school.
Chris and yourself taught me how to be more responsible and smart in my decisions, how to grow up, and I won’t ever thank you enough for that. Jim and Aimee helped me too, by giving me great advice throughout these eleven months. Memorie and Larry showed me you can be friends with everyone, even your landlords! Shari became the grandmother I want to be (for children and for dogs). Lilly, Hannah, and Alanna (and a little bit Chloe, too) taught me how to love even more; I wouldn’t have believed a year ago how much I love them.
Each and everyone of your family and friends, from Florida to Maine, were there to teach me about life in one way or another. Plus, now I know how to make eggs and pasta, and even sausage and gravy (finally). So I want to thank you for all that, because I couldn’t have dreamed of a better experience. You are my family now, and I will miss you very much. Thank you!
They were kind enough to agree to let me share them. You might say to yourself, “Wow, that’s really special, but that’s probably a one of a kind sort of story.” The truth is, both of these ladies are awesome. Aline was so much fun to get to know. She made car rides shorter by how easily she engaged in conversation, was willing to share herself and was interested in others. Jessica is such a great mom that being a host mom was something that she seemed to adapt to easily. The other part of the truth is that these relationships happen all the time. Families (and kids) fall in love and continue to be good friends, and like family, often for life.
I am reminded of this quote by Tennessee Williams:
“The world is violent and mercurial – it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love – love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love” – Tennesee Williams.
To Aline & Jessica, I say thank you. Thank you for connecting. Thank you for sharing your selves. Thank you for being part of a better world. Thanks for your love.