Sometime late last year, I learned about an opportunity for families to host international students for the school that my children attend. A little more than a month ago, we were asked if we would be willing to host a tenth grade boy from South Korea who needed a different living situation than the one he was in. After a brief discussion and a week of cleaning up the house and getting his room ready, Jungjoon Lee moved into our house.
Let me just say that the experience so far has been awesome. It’s been a bit of a preview into what it will be like to have teenagers in the house, and it’s been a fun learning experience for all of us. It’s been great to have Joon around, and he’s already become like a big brother to my kids.
One of my favorite parts about having Joon in our home is watching him develop friendships with the other students in school. He shared with me how difficult it was at the beginning of his time here to make friends because the other students have known each other for a long time and have established relationships with each other. Once he formed a couple close friendships, it seems that it has become much easier for him to make friends.
I can remember when I went from a private school to public school in fourth grade. I had a very difficult time making real friends. There were the kids that lived close to me that I would play with, but none of them were close friends. I carried that difficulty in making friends through high school and I still have a tough time making close friends, so I am glad to see that Joon seems to be past that.
A lot of people thought we were crazy when we took in some friends of ours this past summer. Adding a family of six to our home made things a little tight, but it just felt like as big family. In the same way, Joon is like family to us already. He jokes around with the kids and helps out with chores around the house when we need him to.
It’s weird that home life doesn’t seem much different with Joon there. There’s a few more things like English tutoring and trips to the mall or a friend’s house happening any given week, but it hasn’t really impacted our schedule as much as I thought it might. I think it will probably feel like something’s missing when he goes home to Korea for the summer. Having Joon in our home is not just about helping him, but it is great learning and growing experience for my family as well.