Let me explain.
In June, just before my kids got out of school, I received a call asking if I would coordinate a group of Japanese Exchange students for four weeks in August. If you've been reading my blog you know I’ve done these kind of groups before and it's always been a good experience. I love spending time with teenagers and I love learning about teens from other countries, so long story short, I said, “yes.”
I was a little concerned about the time commitment, because it meant finding host families, coordinating activities, and teaching English every day. But, I had heard that the publishing world is pretty slow in August, (a myth, by the way), so thought it would be okay.
What followed was one of the most amazing, wonderful, and crazy summers of my life. Being teacher/coordinator for this group literally took up all of my time in July and August that wasn’t previously committed to my family. (And some that was.)
Was it worth it?
Would I do it again? The jury is still out on that one, especially as I get closer to the release date of my book and need to devote more and more time to writing. What I can say, I'm glad I did it. I’m glad I had the experience. I’m glad I got to spend almost every day with twenty-five amazing Japanese kids and the ten or so American kids that joined us for English class and activities each day.
The experience was a positive for me on many levels. From the perspective of a global citizen, I know these cultural exchanges make huge strides towards understanding each other and therefore, furthering world peace. From the perspective of a mother, I’m so happy that my kids, especially my daughter, (who was in class often), had the chance to have this experience and make international friendships. From the perspective of a young adult author, I learned tons about the way teens interact with each other, even when they’re from different cultures and have a language barrier. It was four weeks of learning through observation and being a part of this experience.
I didn’t get a lot of writing done, but I’ve learned (and I’ve think said before), sometimes being a writer means getting out from behind your computer, making observations, and living life.
So, you’ll forgive me if my next few blog posts are about my experiences with the exchange students. I’ll try to give them a writer’s perspective. (How could I do otherwise?) I’ll start Friday with a “Teens Doing Great Things” devoted to my Japanese kids, sadly, now thousands of miles away.