It’s so hard to say goodbye

Over nine months ago, we received a phone call asking us if we would host a Japanese  exchange student for her senior year in high school. A few days later, Sumire walked into our home and left a lasting impression. A very quiet and shy girl by nature, she really became like a big sister to my daughter Leah. They would often play games, watch movies and just hang out together. 

Sumire attended her prom last week and then graduation from high school on Monday evening. Her parents traveled all the way from Japan to attend. Yesterday we said goodbye to Sumire and her parents. Shortly after they left, Leah broke down and cried for about twenty minutes. She kept saying “I want Sumire.” I was unprepared for her reaction, though I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. With the exception of my grandmother’s death two years ago, this was the first person Leah has ever had to say goodbye to. When I told her that it was just time for Sumire to go back home, she just said that it “broke her heart.” This morning, Leah is doing better and now talks about wanting to visit Sumire in Japan and go to Disneyland Tokyo.

So Sumire, best of luck in Japan and college. We hope to see you again.

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8 Responses to “It’s so hard to say goodbye”


  1. 1 Tammy June 6, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Oh Stephanie, I know how much you’ve enjoyed Sumire staying with you. She was put in your path for a reason and now she is taking a little piece of your family back to Japan. What a wonderful experience for her and your family, you have really made a difference in her life.

    How sad for Leah. Please give her an extra hug from me. She can send Sumire letters and pictures to keep in touch – you’ve got plenty of crafty supplies for her to make something ;0).

    Maybe with this chapter in your life ending, another will begin SOON. Come on referral!!!!

  2. 2 Katie J June 6, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    It is hard to say goodbye. Buttons is always sad when a grandparent goes back home, but Japan is awfully far away and Leah understands that very well. My heart is breaking for her. Sending hugs your way.

  3. 3 wendyz June 6, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    What a beautiful experience for your family, Stephanie, one that Leah will always treasure. I love that she got to see a young woman be so courageous and independent – one who was able to leave her family to have an incredible experience – one in which she truly opened her heart up to. So cool.

  4. 4 Robin June 7, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    It truly is heart breaking when your exchange student goes back home especially if they really became a part of your family. Our exchange student from 2 years ago is visiting with us right now. She has been here for two weeks and has one more week to go. It will be sad all over again to see her leave as she really is “one of the family”.

    Congratulations on your referral too! What a cutie pie! I’m sure you will be counting the days to your travel.

  5. 5 Glen June 11, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Stephine,
    How wonderful, In my post you cominented on. “An all new level of Sanity or is it Insanity, we will have to see.” This is exactly what I am talking about. We are hoping to host a student from China. Every thing is in place we just have to get approval from the school board committee. We are so hoping this goes through what an experience it will be.
    Glen

  6. 6 Alysse Iverson June 28, 2007 at 4:26 am

    awww 😦
    that made me cry
    I was on exchange with Rotary last year in the USA …and ow what a year 🙂
    Reading this makes me so sad for your daughter but i am sure this has changed your life

    God bless
    thanks for taking on an exchange student
    It’s a big thing
    xoxox

  7. 7 Brian S August 6, 2007 at 3:17 am

    I am going through an exchange as I type this.
    I guess what I would like to know if anyone had issues with the High School – as it seems the English Fluency isn’t as good as the School may like.

    I am only guessing that this is problem for some students and schools, as they don’t have the resources to dedicate special attention to a foreign student.

    I just hope our student can be absorbed and shine when school starts; we are trying hard to get her involved in conversation daily. (I read a little: differences in school can be that American school test questions have a lot of essay questions, where Japan seems to have wrote memorized test questions – straight answers and facts).

    Fingers crossed – I’d hate to have to be forced a hand where she has to return home earlier than anticipated.

    Sad day indeed.


  1. 1 Fabrics for the nursery « Me So Crafty Trackback on June 25, 2007 at 11:03 am

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