When you think of the word home, what image comes to mind? Chances are you are probably imagining some sort of house equipped with windows, doors, and a roof overhead. It is not surprising that we all share this vision when we hear the word home. In fact, when you go onto any search engine and type the word home, you will find the same familiar houses that come to mind. We all associate houses with homes, but homes are much more than walls of brick and wood.
“Comfort,” “Family,” “Security,” “Freedom,” all are different ways to describe home. Home means something different for everybody, but each meaning is important and respected nonetheless. Regardless of what home means to you, the thought of straying away from the familiarity of home can be scary. If you have ever been away from home, I am sure you can agree that after a while of separation, you begin to crave the feeling of being back at home. Even if you tell yourself “you never want to leave or go back,” you will still have a sense of gratitude and ease when you return. Although it is nice to enjoy taking a break, most of us will eventually come back to the homes we know and love. For the 33 international students at North Cross coming from fifteen countries around the world to live in the dorm, their “homes” are thousands of miles away. To put it into perspective, some of these students will only get to see their family or homes only once or twice a year. Our very own Willis Hall Herald editor, Eason Zhou ‘24 has not returned to his home in China for over 800 days. This extension of time might seem unbearable and depressing at first, but there is more to it.
Luckily for Zhou and all the international students, their time away from home does not need to be a negative thing. Instead, their new environment has given them the opportunity to form a new home, their “home away from home.” In a new home, our international students can gain a new sense of belonging. Some students have even gotten the chance to stay with and join the homes of their host families. As they will always keep their “old homes” close to heart, they are able to find new meanings and beginnings with their homes here in the United States.
Recently, in a survey to find out what international students liked most about their home away from home, we discovered that each student had their own unique outlooks. From “experiences and opportunities” to “pools and having a chance to be away from parents,” all the international students have grown to appreciate something new about their homes here. One of the best parts about homes is that along with having multiple different homes, we can share our home with one another as well. This January, Willis Hall welcomed a new Spanish Teacher into our community. We hope to share with her our love of North Cross, a school and community that is one of the many places we call home.