Photo: Latifa shadowing the newspaper (photo credit: Ozark County Times' Facebook page).
By: Latifa Ben Awadh,YES 2015-2016, Kuwait, hosted by ASSE in Gainesville, MO
As many of you know, I was a foreign exchange student this past year, studying at Gainesville High School. I returned to Kuwait this past June, and I have had the honor to write in this newspaper, and take the time to thank my host family and the local community for making this past year the most memorable experience I’ve had, and will ever have. I also wanted to thank them for the kindness, friendship and acceptance they showed me, even when I speak a different language, have a different religion, a different culture and a different lifestyle.
I loved that I was hosted at Gainesville, Missouri. And by hosted, I mean someone chose to be my second family and bring me in to their home and life, and incorporate me into the community. It was definitely different living in this little town. I was so used to big cities and huge houses, and living in the countryside was quite a change I really loved and enjoyed.
Volunteering in Gainesville got me more involved in the community. I worked concessions stands and at the nursing home, and I truly wish I had had the time to see the residents there before leaving, but unfortunately I didn’t. I have not said my good-byes to anybody. What I said was, “I’ll see you soon, in a year or two or many.” That’s because Gainesville will always be my second home, no matter the distance. By hosting an exchange student, it will not only change the student’s life, it will change yours too.
This article originally appeared on 28 July 2016 in the Ozark County Times