10 Things I Learned

While my Daughter was

in Turkey for a Year

by Karrie Blackwell

1. You really can put your daughter on a plane to go across the world for a year, then head home and throw a load of laundry in and walk the dog.  Life really does have to go on.


2. That shopping for fashion boots with your 11-year old son is a whole different experience than shopping with your daughter.


3. How much you appreciate time spent talking with high school girls the same age as your daughter…or anyone for that matter who enjoys discussing random topics like bacon, coconut popsicles, craft supplies, movies, puppies,online deals, or rude customers at their place of employment.


4. How much you appreciate Skype and social media.


5. That there is no proper way to thank a family 5400 miles away who took your daughter in their home as part of theirfamily…and made a Thanksgiving dinner for her.


6. That keeping busy and healthy are great ways to deal with the change of your daughter being gone all year!


7. That you could be so happy, excited, nervous, proud, and sad…all at the same time.


8. That there are people who completely understand what you are experiencing...they also have daughters studying in other countries all year...thanks LIlly Lahey and Teri Fritch!                                

9. That most parents will look at you with a somewhat confused, “are you crazy?” kind of look once they hear that your daughter is studying abroad for a full year, and remind you of all of the conflict overseas.  And you know they mean well.


10. That friendship and kindness cross all borders, languages, and religions, and that family isn’t just the people in your own home or your own community.

"I can attest to the fact that opening up my mind and my heart to the idea of my daughter moving to a foreign country for almost a year was not easy.  I didn’t really fear for her safety, as I knew that Rotary was extremely careful with placements, but the thought of her being gone for so long was difficult, as we were/are very close.  As a single parent, I couldn’t imagine life without her for such a long period of time!  I finally realized that the opportunity for her to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience was much more important than my fears of missing her.  This was about HER, not me!"  


Yes, the first month of her being gone was hard, but enthusiastic e-mails and phone calls from her helped with my adjustment.  A trip to visit her in February solidified my comfort…I saw firsthand how much she had grown and how enriching the experience was.  Her hosts were warm and loving, her friends were awesome, and the education she was receiving, both inside and outside of the classroom wildly exceeded our expectations.  The exchange experience was only the beginning of her love for traveling and studying different cultures.  She has returned several times to visit friends and hosts, and they have traveled here to visit us.  She worked for a summer in Denmark, and spent a semester abroad while in college.  She, better than most, learned that there is a huge, interesting, exciting world beyond the United States where ideas can be explored and exchanged, and life-long friendships can be made.  Any individual/family that does not explore the Rotary program is missing the opportunity for a life-changing experience!”  


-Kathy Kolb, mother of Annie, exchange student to Mexico

At the Istanbul Gardens