Parents abroad: ‘what they don’t know won’t hurt them’

By Amina Mamaty | 4/3/13 7:42pm


Imagine yourself as a parent. One day, your 17-year-old daughter tells you she wants to go study abroad on the other side of the globe for a whole year. It doesn’t include visits, only phone calls, and living with a different family that you have never met. For eleven months, you would have no control over where she goes, when she comes home, who she hangs out with, what she wears and eat.

Would you be able to sleep at night? I often wonder how many times a day my parents think about what I could possibly be doing. Anything can happen, and it’s not like they are 20 minutes away and could get here fast. I asked myself a couple times “Why don’t they call me every minute?” I figured they got used to me being gone by now, but when I don’t get my Sunday phone call, I feel like they forgot about me. Is it just them realizing that I am growing up? I think so, but let me tell you something, my parents can sleep tight.

I’m loved and in good hands on this side of the ocean. Americans have a sense of hospitality like no other and I have learned that those who have less share the most. Throughout my journey, I had the chance to live with a lot of families, way different than mine. Single mothers, working 3rd shift would go out of their way to make sure I feel comfortable in their home. They would give me anything I need and more, because they expected somebody to do the same for their daughters. I still feel the joy in my Mom’s voice when she calls and I tell her that I’m in Chicago, because my friend invited me over for Thanksgiving or that I was invited to Detroit for Easter!

I call all my friends’ mothers “Mom” and make every city my city. I feel so loved and welcome everywhere I go. I used to question the fact that my parents could take an international student in our home and be a host family, but now, I have no doubt. My experience definitely changed their minds. They developed relationships through the phone with each and every person who took care of me since I’ve been here and I can’t wait for the day they all meet each other. I will never be thankful enough. Love has no frontiers, and I hope being able to receive and spread it in so many more places where others need it as well in the future.

My family doesn’t know that I spend all my money on fast food. They don’t know that I go out way more than I should. They always wonder why I am always sick, but they will never know, and I will never tell them that it is because I refuse to wear a coat in the winter. What they don’t know won’t hurt them, but knowing I am in good, loving hands, will help them sleep better at night.
amamaty@lanthorn.com

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