Monday, August 12, 2013

First day of school

Ella and I survived our first weekend with our new exchange student, Duc (pronounced Duke) from Vietnam, and we watched him board the school bus this morning for his first day of high school in America.

They grow up so fast.

Of course, not everything was smooth sailing, especially late yesterday afternoon when we realized that Duc didn’t have the appropriate clothes for school. The school system has a dress code of khaki-type pants and solid color Polo-style shirts, and Duc, who had studied the school’s website before coming to the U.S., assured us that he would be in compliance.

On Sunday, though, he mentioned to Ella that he would be wearing jeans to school. Uh oh! So, I spoke with Duc, asking him to show me his outfit for Monday morning. He had picked out jeans and a striped button down shirt. In fact, all he had were jeans, with not a khaki in sight, and upon further conversation, we learned that he had no idea what “solid color” meant.

We obviously had to rectify this situation, so we did what every good thrifter does. We went to the local Goodwill, which has a nice selection of clothes. Duc was able to pick out three new looking shirts, but because he is so slim, we couldn’t find any pants. So, we went to the mall, where he found several pairs of appropriate khakis.

Our first parenting crisis averted.

Earlier on Sunday, Duc helped me cut the grass, which seems like no big deal, except that he had never pushed a lawn mower in his life. After several starts, he managed to get the hang of it, but I don’t think that he liked getting “itchy.”

Duc helped me beat back the jungle on Sunday; it was his first time cutting grass
On Saturday, Duc went to yard sales with us, then we attended the Battle of Byron (a local community event), and ended the day at the local auction, where I think Duc enjoyed listening to the auctioneer, but ultimately was bored.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to work too much on my online business this weekend, other than the few yard sales that we attended on Saturday. Duc did help me pack my sold items, though, and I think he enjoyed that a lot more than cutting the grass.

Ella and I don’t have children, so it’s odd to have someone in the house now. We’ve had to make a few adjustments, not the least of which is providing three square meals a day to a hungry teen. Speaking of food, Duc was not impressed with our microwaved “boil in the bag” rice. I guess we will have to drag the rice cooker out, and learn to use it.

Over the next year, I hope we can introduce Duc to the joys of living in small town America, something that he has never experienced, and something that we sometimes forget. For example, waiting for the bus in the dark this morning, Duc noticed that he could actually see the stars in the sky, something that he couldn’t do in Hanoi.

As I pointed out a few constellations to him, I realized that such moments are the real reason that he is here.

It’s going to be a good year.


  1. If Duc is anything like my friend's South Korean boy last year, he will not like ANY kind of rice that he doesn't cook himself and don't dare take him to a typical Chinese restaurant! South Korea gets quite cold and apparently is not humid, and Michael found it quite disgusting to sweat in the Alabama heat -- and he left before June! But he was a very sweet kid and we all loved him, and I hope y'all have the same great experience as my friend did.

    1. We actually did take Duc to a Chinese restaurant on his first day here. He ate, but I'm not sure that he actually enjoyed it. He is very quiet and respectful, and wants to experience all he can about America.

  2. How exciting! He looks like a nice young man. I'm sure you will both be teaching each other new things.

    1. I think so, too. Hopefully, he can teach us a few words of Vietnamese before his parents, who speak no English, visit in February.

  3. What a great opportunity for all of you! Our local schools offer an exchange program where students from Germany spend one month with local families. We've thought about participating. I'll be interested to read more about your experiences.

    1. I'll try to keep everyone posted. He had a rough first day of school. He got off the bus at the wrong school in the morning, got put in wrong classes, didn't have time to finish his lunch (they only get 25 minutes), and then missed the afternoon bus home.

  4. Ugh! Here's hoping for smoother days to come.