Ties that bind… this phrase comes to mind as I think about the year just passed. We hosted a foreign exchange student from Moldova and today, she just went home. It seems odd that she won’t be sitting on the chair in the living room, laptop on lap, or wandering around the house doing this or that. She became part of the family. Nine months ago we didn’t know her name, didn’t know she existed. Nine months later, I found myself in tears that she was leaving. She’d just become part of our life. I think exchange programs should do this and were meant to do this … help strangers become family. We now have a connection between our family here and her family there that is most likely permanent. We don’t know when we’ll see each other again, but I doubt it will be never. It will most likely be a year, two, or three. And I think of the other exchange students that we got to know at various events over the year. No longer strangers. The world becomes much smaller and all seem like the neighbor next door, despite the fact that thousands of miles separate us. This is as it should be. We should recognize our oneness. One human family. “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens” (from Baha’i Writings). We’ll see you soon, Cristy!