Almost Sisters

December 13, 2008
I couldn’t keep my feet from fidgeting as I sat in the back seat of the car awaiting our arrival at the airport. The two hour drive seemed like ten. I was so anxious to meet the girl who had been the center of almost every conversation for the past few weeks. Everyone was so eager to know everything about the girl who would soon become my new sister for the next year.

I reflected back to the night when my parents asked what I thought about hosting a foreign exchange student. We had had an exchange student four years before, and I hadn’t minded having another brother around. I actually enjoyed hearing stories about his life in Venezuela. After a short period of contemplation, I agreed to the idea of hosting another. After all, one more brother among the three preexisting ones couldn’t be so bad, but my parents weren’t exactly on the same page as I was.

I had wanted a sister when I was younger, but as a freshman in high school, it had been awhile since the thought had crossed my mind. I had been the only girl all my life, and I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of changing that now. I tried to convince my parents that a boy would be more what they wanted and that they wouldn’t want another girl around the house, but they insisted that a male exchange student just wasn’t an option. After careful deliberation, I reluctantly decided to give it shot.

The next few weeks were spent getting everything prepared for the infamous newcomer. From interviews to paperwork, it all seemed so pointless. We cleared the room that was once my oldest brother’s and made it suitable for a teenage girl. My brother was now doomed to the couch on his sparse visits home. The time went by quickly and before I knew it, it was the day before the beginning of what I projected to be the longest year of my life.

By the time we got home with Vartushick, or simply “V” as we learned to call her, I was already beginning to like her. There was something about her inviting smile that let me know that we were going to have a good time. Throughout the weeks leading up to the new school year, I introduced her to friends and classmates that we ran into around town. When school finally started, I made it my personal responsibility to show her to her classes and make sure she didn’t get lost. Having a sister wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, in fact, it was actually somewhat fun.

The first month or two was full of ruts in the road. Although she knew some English, there was still a big language barrier that made it difficult to understand each other. We became easily frustrated with one another as I attempted to teach her simple tasks such as sweeping and using the washing machine. There were times when I felt like she would never learn, but despite our disagreements, we eventually became as close as real sisters.

The year went by much quicker than I expected, and soon, it was time for V to go back to Armenia. I was disinclined to let her go, but I knew she missed her family back home. I realized how important it had been to persevere through our struggles. If I had simply given up, like I had so often wanted to do, we both would have had a miserable year, but I hadn’t, and it brought an extraordinary friendship.

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