Reaching the end of a year spent abroad is always bitter sweet. As FLEX students collect at Dulles International Airport for their group flights home, they express conflicting emotions: “I just can’t wait to see my family! It was so hard saying goodbye to my family! I was crying the whole plane ride! How will I live without [some U.S. candy]? I can’t wait to eat [traditional dish]!” These mixed emotions are often followed by heart-warming stories of how FLEXers and their host families and friends spent their last few hours – stories about host siblings staying up all night with them to seize every moment, stories of goodbye parties with extended family, stories of large groups of friends coming to the airport and kind words from host schools. It is moving to watch FLEX students get off the plane clutching meaningful gifts of scrapbooks, photos, and trinkets, holding dearly onto a great year of memories. This duality of the meaning of home, exchange, and family is one of the things that makes the FLEX Program, as well as other exchange programs, so special and so life-changing.
After many long flights and multiple layovers, all this year’s FLEX students have arrived home. Their families awaited them outside of baggage claim with balloons, flowers, stuffed animals, and posters – eagerly awaiting to see their loved ones! Welcome home to all 2015-2016 FLEX Students! You will surely be missed! 🙂
See more photos from return travel here!