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Dear AHLI students, the end of the school year has come and gone- without fanfare, celebrations, yearbook signings, parties, and farewell hugs. Many of you may be reading this from your home country. Others may still be in the U.S., but sheltering at home to finish your studies. It’s understandable you are struggling with disappointment or even anger that your plans did not unfold as you had hoped.
Helen Keller, born in 1880 went blind and deaf due to an illness at 19 months old. She overcame many obstacles to learn to read, write, and speak. Helen became the first blind-deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree, and went on to publish 12 books. Helen, known for her perseverance through challenges famously said, “When one door of happiness closes, another one opens but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
Pandemic 2020 will always be remembered. But how you remember it is up to you. Don’t focus so long on what was lost that you don’t remember the good times you had this year. And be open to what lies ahead- Good things are yet to come. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
Tiffanee M. Wright, MA, MPH | Executive Director
AHLI - International Education and Homestay
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain." Vivian Greene, author
Farewell messages from some of our AHLI Student Directors:
Jennifer Cranston- To all my students I am so proud of you for overcoming this unusual situation and our new environments. You stayed strong in your school work and pushed through the challenges of online education. I pray and hope you have a summer filled with relaxation, health and happiness. To all my seniors this experience will help you to start your college career strong and resourceful, and I wish you all the best. To my returning students, a new year is coming and new opportunities await. I cannot what to see your smiling faces again. My love and prayers to you all.
Douglas Brooks- I recall my high school graduation followed a period of racial tension and societal unrest everywhere. I bought my first used Mustang only to see gas prices double. I faced being sent to war and later saw the President resign after impeachment. A favorite Bible verse encouraged me to "Cast all your cares on Him (Jesus) for He cares for you" There have been ups and downs along the way but life has been good. Put your trust in Christ, look beyond today's distractions and focus on God's big plan for you.
Brian Kelley- Life is full of uncertainty! We want answers to the unknown and what is uncertain, we want clarity. When we do not get those answers we begin to panic and in some ways we go into hiding, operating out of fear. However, there is certainty during this time...having a relationship with Jesus brings this certainty. I do not need all the answers and clarity because I know for certain he will guide and protect me. Recall the lessons from Bible class, chapel, messages in church and one on one with others and place your hope in the certainty of Jesus as your personal savior.
Sheila Johnson: I can imagine you have many questions about your school for next year — “What will school be like next year? Will I have to finish school on my computer? Will I even be able to go back to the USA?“
First, Your host family and coordinator miss you and love you. Whatever the challenges are, we are here to help. Let us know what we can do. Let’s keep in touch and things are going to get better. You are going to survive, learn great things, and thrive. We are looking forward to seeing you soon. With love and prayers, Sheila.
David Lindhiem- This school year has ended like no other in any of our lifetimes. Who would have believed that schools would be closed for so long due to a virus? I feel really bad for seniors especially who missed out on their proms, being able to walk across the stage at graduation to get their hard earned diplomas and throwing their caps into the air in triumph with all their classmates. These things can never be repeated and I feel a sense of sorrow just writing about them. But now we have a choice. We can either wallow in self-pity and let those feelings overtake us, or we can look for opportunities to start something new and make a difference in your life and this world. As individuals we are very small in the great scheme of things and we should always be conscious of that smallness as it keeps us humble. But we are also unique people created by God to develop our potential to the fullest and live a life that honors him. I will end with a few lines from one of my favorite country songs called, "I hope you dance".
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the chance to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance! I hope you dance!