Monday, July 29, 2013

#MakesMeSmileMondays Our Visitor from Iraq

For the past ten days, we have welcomed Layla into our home, a 15-year-old young woman from Iraq, through a U.S. State Department exchange program. 

Layla has never had the chance to travel outside of Iraq before, and yet she settled quickly into our home, her home away from home, and the city of Chicago. She is excited, full of life, and eager to learn - all the essential elements for a life less ordinary.

Chiara has versed her in the world of My Little Pony and (because she has no filter) has taught her such essential English words and expressions, including "Fart", "Brain Freeze", and "Potty". 

Chiara and Layla

Layla is from Najaf, Iraq. She tells me that here in the U.S., she feels like she is in a dream, or in a movie. In Iraq, she lives with her father, who owns a salt factory, and her mother, who works long hours in airport security, and is in charge of all the cooking and cleaning and childcare of her younger sister and brother. I have so enjoyed learning about her life in Iraq, and I have appreciated her enthusiasm and warmth. Both kids have had such fun spending time with Layla, and she has brought most definitely new perspectives into our home. Tomorrow, we'll have a celebratory feast, and on Wednesday, Layla will begin the journey back home to Iraq.  

Daniel and Layla at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

I just know that Layla is going to go far and wide, and incite some big changes in Iraq and the world, with the use of her brains, determination and kindness. I wish her all the best and I look forward to following her journey!

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