YES Programs



Goodbyes Are Never Easy But Family Is Forever

YES student, Meriem, meeting her host siblings for the first time at the airport

This article was originally published on June 26, 2017 by Just Add Culture, the Academic Year Abroad (AYA) program blog. For the original AYA blog post, please follow this link.

Regenia, a Local Coordinator from Ohio, shares this heartfelt message about hosting international students and saying goodbye to her beloved Moroccan daughter Meriem, an AYA Exchange Student.

I will keep this brief. Today is a hard day for our family and for Meriem. Today was the day we chose to avoid talking about, but prepared for nonetheless. Today was the day at 6:20 a.m. when bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived we drove to our local airport, helped her sort out the weight distribution between her checked bag and carry-on and shared one last hug and a selfie. This day, like all of the “see you laters” of student exchange, is the hardest day.

I could share so much about our Moroccan daughter and all she taught us. I could tell you how we sorted through U.S. politics together trying to make sense of an election so many did not understand. I could tell you that we discovered there are more similarities to the Muslim and Christian faiths than there are differences. I could tell you how we shared endless laughs, dreams and stories, but all of that would be more meaningful to Meriem and our family than you.

So to summarize how much this exchange experience meant to my whole family, (and to convince you, dear reader to say “yes” to your own hosting experience) I will simply share a small snippet of a letter I gave to Meriem right before she hit the TSA line:

"The love we have shared living and being a family for ten months reminds me so much of the character of God. “Random” exchanges quickly evolve into “adopted sons and daughters” who fill my life with hope, love and friendship. On really bad days, when it seems like the evil of this world is winning, I only have to remember all the friends and “family” I have been blessed with all over the world, and I know love is real and conquers all. Love wins. It’s a constant comfort and makes me well up with tears just to think about it.

The love I have for you is very real, and I wanted to share it with you in this letter, so you will never be able to doubt it… I learned, after the death of a family member seventeen years ago, a simple truth that carries me through all of the “goodbye moments” life brings. It is simple and one I want you to remember. The love a family shares is so strong that no distance will ever be too great for it. Our family’s love will keep us close, and we will be ever present because we live forever in each other’s thoughts, memories and hearts.

Bon voyage my sweet daughter…"

Read another post by Meriem's host mom from earlier in the program year!