Well, you'd be wrong. That's no cookie, as my 6-year-old daughter's eyes led her to believe. It's a salty Japanese cracker, perhaps, even with a hint of fish sauce. It was a small present from our Japanese exchange student, one among many. She also brought us some darling little origami bookmarks folded like girls in Kimono.
Now, I could tell you that our family doesn't travel because we are super holier-than-thou when it comes to the carbon footprint of air travel. But that's not really the case. It's price more than anything. Sure, we'd love to see more of the world with our kids, but it's just not really in the cards these days.
That's why hosting an exchange student gives you many of the benefits of travel, without leaving the comfort of home. This year, we hosted a 15-year-old girl from Kobe, Japan for two weeks in July. Very sweet girl. I was proud of her. First time away from home! Sheesh -- what a big trip! Her English was good, but not great, so we had our fair share of 'language barrier' confusions. Like the cookie/cracker. Oh, but you should have seen the look on my treat-monger's face when she bit into that thing she thought was a frosted cookie… Hilarious! Yet she made me so proud when she didn't spit it out and say it was gross. She chewed it up and said perhaps she'd take some ice cream after all and save her Japan treat for later.
We had joked in advance that we were dying to ask about the robo-toilets of Japan, but never really got to that comfort level with our student. The kids and my husband had this running joke saying "let's go!" and "get up!" in Japanese -- the phrases sound very similar. And perhaps the most fun of all was when we made sushi rolls together for dinner one night, using the bamboo rollers and nori that our student had brought from home.
As much as we work to lower our carbon footprints, if we had the money, I think we'd travel much more. I'd love to see more of the world, and share it with my kids. For now, we've enjoyed hosting exchange students and sharing with them the joys of our little corner of the world.