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A Happy Thanksgiving Memory

When Lux moved into our guest bedroom on the Friday after Thanksgiving, 1990, Husband and I welcomed a third child, another teenager. She brought two suitcases, clothes on hangers, and a big smile. Lux, Lavanya, was a Rotary Exchange student from India, and we were her host family for four months.

            About a year earlier, during a family supper discussion Husband talked about the exchange students who presented the Noonday Rotary Club’s program and the idea to invite a student to live with us was born. Daughter and Son, ages 16 and 14, had known other Cookeville High School exchange students and they thought it would be fun.  Husband and I agreed so when he learned that Lux needed a host family, he volunteered.

            Rotary Exchange students are 15-19 years old and attend school while living with two or three hosts families during their 10-12 months experiences.  Lux had requested the United States.  She came from a professional family; an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

            Lux had lived with another Cookeville host family before she came to us so she knew the routines of a being a high school student and had earned how living here was different from living in her home city, a megacity.  But she had been the only child at her first host home and at our house she was thrown into a hectic schedule.  Two working parents and two teen-age siblings who played sports, attended Young Life meetings and church youth groups, and whose friends who were in and out of our home often.  All that activity made Lux’s smile even wider.

            No matter where anyone went, even to the grocery store or post office, Lux wanted go. She especially enjoyed high school and Tennessee Tech basketball games, and although she didn’t understand the rules, she liked the excitement and cheered when we did.   

            Lux sometimes wore a red dot on her forehead.  She explained that where she lived in southern India, a dot could be marked after prayers, but in some Indian cultures, only a married woman can wear a dot, a bindi.  And she explained her altar which set on her bedside table.  Christmas was a natural time to talk about the differences between Christian and Hindu faiths.  These ongoing discussions among made me appreciate this international student exchange program.

            Lux enjoyed the freedom of wearing blue jeans and t-shirts, but for special occasions she chose her native dress, beautiful colorful saris.  Showing her sense of humor, she once dressed in her sari and a baseball cap that Son had given her.  She stood by the door smiling, and as expected, Daughter and Son both shook their heads and told her to either change her clothes or take off the cap.  She giggled and took off the cap.

             Thanksgiving brings memories of Lux, a daughter I thought would move in, then out of our lives, but phone calls, Christmas cards, emails, and social media have kept us in touch.  When she calls and says, “Hi, Mom,” I see her smile and travel back to 1990. 



One Response

  1. I’m Lux’s husband. Thanks for this, it was fun hearing these stories (which I’ve heard many times from her) from another perspective. Happy holidays!


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