Target Practice…

Everyone likes multiple choice tests, right?  How about this:

Taking your international student to target practice is:

  1. Providing an educational experience she may not have gotten somewhere else
  2. Asking for trouble, because you might get pulled from the program
  3. Opening a door for growth and expanding her horizons (so to speak)
  4. An opportunity for fun!
  5. All of the above.

OK, so I think 1, 3 and 4 are probably right on target (oh, hahaha!  That was funny!).

We had a great time visiting Mark’s sister and fam’ in Lake Crystal today: Ron (bro-in-law) and Cheryl (Mark’s sis’), Pat (Mark’s mom, AKA Grandma), Matt (nephew), Tim (friend of Matt’s from nursing school).

Sunny hasn’t met much of our extended family yet.  The fun has just begun! She soon learned that the Bursaw sense of humor extends beyond 10008!  We had a great time. The highlight of which was Matt and Ron taking us out to his uncle’s land for some target practice… a 22 caliber rifle (did I say that right?), 9 mm pistol, 40 gauge pistol. I told them I thought we were on the set for A Christmas Story – the 22 caliber looks just like the Daisy Red Rider that Ralphie wanted for Christmas!! Just got some odd looks…

Matt set up targets up the hill while Ron educated us on the fine art of shooting.  We all shot — most of us were novices (I guess BB guns don’t count? Water guns either, they say. Hrmph!). We each took a turn, advancing through the artillery, shooting at orange targets, small green targets, milk bottles and for some people (Mark!) squirrels in trees about 50 ft above us.  Well, he didn’t really!  He’s a story teller – likes to be dramatic!

Some were a little reticent, but soon relaxed and enjoyed it. Would we do it again? You bet!

In fact, Ashley and I both want a gun for Christmas now… well, jk, maybe not.

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A month already?!?!?

Tomorrow it will be four weeks that Sunny has been part of our family. Time flies when you’re having fun really is true!  🙂

Saturday, September 1, we got to the airport early… sign in hand. We figured if we had her picture on the sign, she’d find us FOR SURE!  Yup!

We met her friend, Cindy, who lives with a family in Eden Prairie and attends Southwest Christian.  Wonderful she had a friend to travel with – 15 hours is a long time “on the road”! She traveled well.

She unpacked and got a little settled.  Then we met Benjamin and Ashley for dinner – we wanted to keep her up as long as possible.   She wants to experience American cuisine – Red Robin is just the ticket!!  We COULD have had them sing happy birthday to her (her birthday was August 27), but… well… we didn’t want to push it too far!

Day 2 – State Fair!  Why hold back? We figured we may as well dive right into Minnesota culture and with only two days left of the State Fair, Sunday was the day. After all, come Monday most of the animals are back on the farm and things are winding down.  Had a great time seeing the sites and getting some fun rides in – the girls, that is!

Think about this… moving to another country, living with people you don’t even know, trying to learn a difficult, inconsistent language – this girl is BRAVE!

And what about her name…  Sarah and I had thought Zoey would be a good name. We think she looks like a Zoey.  If she hadn’t come up with an American name when she got here, we were going to suggest that.  Yet, Zoey Zhou doesn’t have the “ring” that Sunny Zhou does (note:  Zhou begins with a sound similar to a “j”, mixed with “sh”, well kind of… it’s hard to portray Chinese pronunciation with English letters/words! Not that I”m an expert or anything…)

I learned that she chose her name because it sounds like her given name (Shang, pronounced (kind of) Shun). Sunny is a wonderful and perfect name for her – it reflects her “sunny” disposition.  It has also been cause for some laughter… as I talked about the weather on the way to school (OK, it DOES get more interesting than that most of the time!  C’mon!) and I say something about it being sunny out… Sunny looks at me, “Yes, mom?”. (canned laughter heard… oh wait, no – actually, it was REAL laughter!).

She’s gotten to know me quickly – my quirky-ness, my goofy sense of humor.  Thankfully, I think she still likes me! Whew! She hasn’t experienced the “where are my glasses” (when they’re right on my head) or putting the phone in the fridge, but I’m sure those times will come soon enough…

Moving on…  I have several Google calendars – work, my boss’s calendar, volunteer calendar for school, volleyball, soccer, basketball, reading… and now an “International Student” calendar.  I’m keeping track of everything we do, everything she does – knowing FULL WELL that I won’t remember it all.  Hoping to use it to chronicle her time with us at the end of the year… I’m not the artsy kind, but Sarah can help me out in that arena!!  Love having a right-brained child! Whew, again!

First day of school – everyone was excited, looking forward to it! Gotta love that!

Five days after her arrival, she leaves for a two day all-school retreat – an opportunity to “jump in with all fours” (try to picture that… no, she didn’t jump in the lake.  The water was too cold!). The group discussion times were not sinking in – yet, but the community time was priceless, valuable, memorable – I LOVE this school!!

Two weeks into her time with us – hangout time with friends of Sarah’s. More accurately, it was a birthday party with a few people she knew, many people she didn’t. She “jumped in with all fours”.  She is brave, she wants to experience all we have to offer.  I love that about her. It was a fun night of “Just Dance” (she was front and center, by the way), volleyball in the backyard, bonfire (they smelled like smoke when they got home, but who cares!)… fun was had by all!

REALLY fun news from school – Sunny made the play! Arsenic and Old Lace and she says, with a big grin and a chuckle, she is Mr. Gibbs… yes, a man… and she’s OK with that. If you live in the Twin Cities and are free November 2 or 3, you should come – guaranteed good time.

Next in the journey, an “all the girls from school” sleepover at Marta’s house. Just being at Marta’s house is an adventure, I’m sure. (love ya, Marta!) While some of the girls were at VB practice, Marta took the others on a journey.  They were to write a letter/note to someone they didn’t know and they left the messages on car windshields in a parking lot nearby. Well, Sunny wrote hers in Chinese! We’re hoping whoever got it knows someone to translate!  I’m sure it was a sweet note, but only if you know what it says!  🙂

She’s making herself at home, slowly but surely – getting her own breakfast, cleaning out her lunch bag and putting the icepack in the freezer (without being asked, thankyouverymuch!). We haven’t jumped into chores yet, but that will come soon.  Don’t want to scare the poor girl away by dumping on her! Family rules are slowly being communicated (we’ll get to “no technology after 9 PM” soon… although Sarah is Skyping with a friend right now and it’s 11:00 PM. Who’s enforcing these rules anyway??? Oh, yeah, me – well, it’s Friday. That’s OK!).

So, we tick off one month and look forward to the next 8+. It will be so fun to look back at these days 8 months from now and see how far we’ve all come. Because, you know, Sunny won’t be the only one learning and growing – we’ll be right in there with her.  And we’re all in for the “ride” – care to join us?

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And it begins…

In a few moments, our new “daughter” will be landing in Seattle.  We will be hosting an international student from China for the coming academic year and we are excited.  People ask if we’ve done this before and I say, well, yes in a way. Over the last few summers, we’ve hosted two Japanese college students. They stayed in our home for three weeks and attend classes at Bethel University. We’ve enjoyed that very much, but it was temporary – they were guests.

Growing up in Appleton, WI, my family hosted four international students.  Ali, from Turkey, stayed with us when I was in 6th grade. I remember shooting buckets (basketball, just in case you needed that translation) in the driveway with Ali. Fun memories.  We stay in touch to this day.  When Sarah (now 14) was a baby, he came to our family reunion in Wisconsin Dells. When the 35W bridge collapsed, he was on Facebook in moment making sure we were all okay. Last year, Benjamin studied abroad in Cyprus. Ali, the consummate host, flew him up to Ankara to show him the sites there and in Istanbul. Ali stayed with my family for almost a year – temporary – but we are friends for a lifetime.

Meltem, also from Turkey, stayed with us a couple of years later. I remember eating baklava for the first time. We exchange Christmas cards every year, but I really should connect with her more often. Does getting “old” do that to you?

The next student, from France, I can vaguely picture, but really don’t remember.  She wasn’t with us too long – it doesn’t always work out.

Bruce, from Australia, stayed with us when I was in high school.  A mixed gender “experiment” that turned out very well, in my memory. Since my brother is also “Bruce”, we called him “Bear”. He was a big guy, hug-able – thus “bear”. I remember when he and I picked up a friend to go to the movies and I backed into the light pole at the end of their driveway.  AH! Thankfully, my dad felt I punished myself enough and didn’t take away the keys (whew!). Bear played Lancelot in the musical Camelot, while I played flute in the orchestra pit – great memories.  We stayed connected for awhile, but haven’t communicated in years.  I’ll have to do something about that, too.

Now it is my turn to be the “mom”, for our family to host and we are excited.  ZhouShang is a 15 year old girl from China. She will be a sophomore at Calvin Christian School with Jacob (senior) and Sarah (freshman). We have learned some things from her application – she is a good student, is very caring and likes to play basketball, volleyball, and the koto! We have been communicating via email for a few weeks now and she already calls us “mom” and “dad”. We are anxious to learn more about her, more about Chinese culture.  First on the list is what to “call her”. She has talked of taking on an “American” name – we’ll keep you posted on that.

Her room is ready. We have a sign/poster with her picture to meet her at the airport. We have a banner hanging in the dining area to welcome her to our home. We are ready, we think…

She is nervous.  If we are honest, we are nervous. But I have a great sense of peace about the coming year. I am excited to see what God has in store for us as we live life with her, as she becomes part of our family. It will be an adventure.  Stay tuned to the musings…

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