The magic of firsts

Part of the joy of sharing our experiences is that the things that for us are ordinary: are amazing when experienced through the lens of a young person having that experience for the very. first. time.

We had our first snow of the year in Virginia this weekend. As I watched it come down, I thought of two students that are here for the school year from parts of the world where it doesn’t snow. One girl is from Brazil. The other from Thailand.

I asked the girls and their host moms if they would share their thoughts on this new experience. They were kind enough to agree and here is what they shared.

I’m Neen. I come from Thailand. I’m placed in Luray,Virginia. I want to share my experience about my first snow. We don’t have snow in our country , so I’m very excited to see it. I went out , play with the snow and take some pictures. I think it’s very cool to have snow here😂😂 I like it. -Neen

Her host mom shared with me how precious it was when Neen felt snow for the first time and was surprised by how it felt.

Seeing snow has been a dream of mine since I can remember. One of the first things I did when I found out my placement was look up how much snow I would see during my time here. As the weather started changing and it started getting colder, I started getting more and more excited, knowing that soon it would start snowing. During class one day I looked out the window and saw the snowflakes falling from the sky; I couldn’t wait to go outside. But nothing compared to when I woke up the next day and saw the snow that accumulated over night; as cheesy as it sounds, it looked magical and it didn’t feel real. And while for most people here it is not a big deal at all, it was a very special moment for me and I’m so happy that I got to share it with my host family. – Flora

I love the anticipation Flora shares about waiting for this thing (snow) that she’s never experienced before.  How awesome for her host family to get to share that with her!

Of course, I had to ask the host moms to share their thoughts with me. (I feel a little like I’m the mouse in “If you give a mouse a cookie.” If you don’t know that book, it’s a great reading opportunity!)

There have been so many wonderful American traditions and seasons that Neen hadn’t had an opportunity to experience being from Thailand.She loved learning about Christmas and doing the 25 days of Christmas with family and friends. She loved the fall colors and enjoyed seeing them from a top the mountains. She especially loved seeing bear and deer. But, snow has been her all time most excited thing to experience. When I awoke her Friday morning to tell her there was no school, she sat straight up in her bed, wide eyed, and said, “Is there snow?” of course we had only received a dusting–so I told her to go back to sleep–not enough to get excited over. But the next night–we were to receive flurries…she didn’t even want to go neensnowto bed, as she was sooooo excited to see it. But it didn’t start snowing until late….the next morning–snow. So I awoke her to come and see it. Even though it was just a dusting–she was able to play in it–feel it–throw it. There wasn’t enough to make a snowball or snowman–it was more of a fluffy snow–but she didn’t care. Her smile gleamed so big! You couldn’t wipe that beautiful smile from her face the rest of the day. I got tears of joy as I watched her and photographed her very first moments of meeting this gorgeous white stuff! She played in it until her hands were so cold and she said can I get some of those gloves? We got her gloves and she played some more…then she got her camera and began photographing it for herself. I cannot wait until we have enough to build a snowman with her. What a magical time it was! – Pam, Neen’s host mom

I also cannot wait to see pictures of Neen’s snowman when it snows again! I shared with Neen’s host mom that her pictures of Neen made me think of Disney songs. “A whole new world,” comes to mind.
 The first snow this year meant so much more then previous years. My family and I have been anticipating this snow since we found out that it has always been a dream of Flora’s to see snow. For us, this is something we experience yearly. For Flora, this is something she has dreamed of her whole life. With every projected forecast, Flora’s excitement grew, and as did ours. The reason we decided to take in a Foreign Exchange Student, is because we wanted to help make someone’s dreams come true. As simple as it is, this was one of Flora’s big hopes for this year. When we awoke to snow, it felt like the excitement of Christmas. I couldn’t wait for Flora to wake up to see her face. It didn’t disappoint. It was such a blessing to get to see her pure joy as this dream was realized in her life! Watching her play for the first time, sled, make snow balls, and snow angels made this day very special for all of us! Thank you CHI for allowing us to be a part in this very special moment of someone who has become very precious to us! – Kelly, Flora’s host mom

I read their words and see these girls smiling faces and I am awed.  How cool it is (haha. snow. cool.) to see these girls having a truly brand new experience.  Both host moms mention feeling a sense of excitement at getting to share the experience with them. I too am excited for their new experiences and grateful, that as part of the exchange program, I get to be a part of it.

I wish for you, that like Flora & Neen & their families: You too have dreams come true.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Reminds me how much we take for granted.


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