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Back in July 2015, I got the opportunity to go to the United States of America again on a leadership program. I was part of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) where I met inspiring and amazing people. Through the six-week long program, I got to learn about leadership, project management, and American culture with other students from all over the MENA region. It was an enriching experience from many levels. family

In this article, I am not going to write about my experience in MEPI or Space Camp. It is not only the experience that matters but the people we meet through the journey that make it more valuable. In fact, I am going to write about two people whom I am proud to call them my family away from home.

Deep Learning Experience

Through that journey, I compared my first experience in the US when I was only 16 in Space Camp Program. While my second was when I was 21. I was older and more mature. My English language developed as I was a university student during the program. My personality was definitely different and I was very focused. I made life-lasting friendships but there was this family that truly became my family away from home.

During the program, I spent about a week with an American family in Wausau, Wisconsin. On our way by bus to Wisconsin, I was asked if it was okay to be switched to another family. It was a last minute change. There was a student who was not okay with living with a family that owns a dog but I didn’t mind. I didn’t have any expectations or specific requirements.

According to the program’s schedule, I knew I was going to live with an American family and have sessions scheduled for the stay in Wausau. We arrived in the evening. The scenery of the state was an infinite area of green landscape and it just radiated peacefulness. It was quiet and calm which was much needed after spending some time in busy Chicago.

Family Away From Home

I lived with two amazing people named Darlene and Dave. They were very welcoming from the first day. Through the few days I spent with them; I got the chance to learn about them and Wausau. It was the perfect experience of living with a host family given the fact that I never experienced it before. I felt connected to them.

After my classes, we would go out together to golf, walk, and spend the night watching TV and talking. They were very considerate and within the few days, we made this special bond. I remember when they drove me to the bus on the last day of my stay, we both cried. They truly felt like family.

End of The Journey?

I went back to Chicago and I finished the program and went back home, Libya, in August. Our connection remained and it got stronger through the following years. For the past six years, we exchanged messages and I would check on them and they would too. I would share thoughts and news with Darlene whenever something happens.

I informed them when it was confirmed that I would do my master’s in France. Through the last three years of my life here in Paris, I have been through ups and downs and I was challenged by my new reality. Last year by far was the most difficult. It pushed me to my limits and I was not only exhausted but drained. A few people knew what I went through and they were one of those people. Their support and encouragement helped me a lot and I felt their love regardless of distance.

Distance Brings People Together

There was this time when I had a serious problem during my studies and Darlene knew about the problem. I didn’t ask for help and I was working on solving the problem but suddenly she texted to inform me that Dave and she would love to help in any way possible. Overwhelmed by their kindness; I knew that they truly cared about me. This article may not be enough but I want to thank them deeply for everything through the past six years.

Darlene is a loving, caring, and kind woman and her genuine feelings radiate from her to those around her. She loves deeply and never hesitates to help in any way possible. Her energy and strength never ceases to amaze me. The beauty of her relationship with her husband is heart-warming and hopeful. I could clearly sense the love she has for Dave whenever she talks about him.

A relationship that shows you strength and support in the most difficult times but they push through. Dave’s warmth, love, and great sense of humour are what I cherish dearly. To me, Darlene and Dave are my family away from home. Distance made our connection stronger and I can simply be myself around them without feeling judged or questioned. Since I left the US in 2015, I knew I had people who I care about back there and we shall remain connected regardless of distance. May we get reunited sooner than later.