So close and yet so far

I’ve tried, y’all.

I welcomed a lovely young woman into our home in the hopes that we would all—foreign exchange student and host family alike—learn from each other.

And we have.

But when she charged upstairs to find out when Anne Frank died, then excused herself to go back to watching a movie downstairs, I felt deflated. “Can’t we talk about WWII?” I want to call down the stairs. “Wait! How do they teach the Holocaust in your country, because Anne Frank’s diary has proven a useful tool to introducing the horror to school-aged children,” I want to bellow towards her room.


Another change at true cultural exchange lost to the draw of Skype and YouTube.

Our Dominican houseguest brought a stack of thrift store finds to my home office for show-and-tell. She asked me if “Vagina Monologues” meant what she thought it meant. “Yes, and no,” I began, wanting to have a discussion about domestic violence and talk about female power and patriarchal structures and rape in India. But she grinned and said she’d have some explaining to do back home when she wore that shirt, and skipped off to pack her overstuffed, 700-pound suitcases. (You’re welcome, DollarTree. Your third quarter profits are predominantly courtesy of this Dominican-American exchange.)

If a mama can’t get some good conversation going about Anne Frank and Eve Ensler, then there doesn’t seem much hope for this pairing. Seriously.

Sure, sure, we talked poverty and cancer and AIDS protocol adherence. *Sigh.* I guess that counts. <Pout>

But seriously. Wouldn’t you want to know about how they teach history in other countries? Feminism? Experimental theater?

What? That’s just me? Poor Rosí got the weird end of this deal, didn’t she.