I met Fiona, a YES student from Kenya, after school in one day in 2011. Her host father and my mother taught science together at Poudre High School. From the start, I could tell Fiona was a kind-hearted, love filled young woman. She always went out of her way to make me smile. We spent many good times together during her year in Colorado. Here are a few that stand out to me:
1) Fiona’s first snow – It was just a dusting, just a tiny bit of snow. But we ran outside together, touching the snow, making little snowballs…only problem was neither of us had gloves. Our hands burned with cold for an hour afterwards
2) Fiona coming to watch me in the Music Man – I always love it when my friends come watch me perform.
YES Abroad - It was Fiona who first told me about YES Abroad. I knew about YES (the inbound version), but one day I found myself talking to Fiona about how much I love exchange students, and how I wished I could be one. She pulled out a YES Abroad flyer from her bag. From the moment I saw the flyer, I knew the program was for me. Fiona watched me go through the process of applying, and cheered when I was awarded the scholarship to Ghana.
3) Invisible Children – I remember when Invisible Children came to Poudre and gave us presentation. I know there have been concerns about this organization, but I remember the people I have met through it and maintain respect for them. Watching the presentation and meeting the people was a different when Fiona was with me, because she understood the area well. She helped me see that Africans of different nations often empathize with each other deeply.
4) Our faux Sadie Hawkins – Fiona, her host sister, and I made plans to go to the Sadie Hawkins Dance at Poudre together. Turned out we were three of about twenty with those plans. They cancelled the dance. Oh, well, we dressed up fancy and went to eat at The Beach House, a wonderful restaurant that has since closed down.
5) Prom – Fiona and I stuck together like glue during senior prom. Oh yeah, I had a date. In our picture, we’re standing on either side of him with our hands on his shoulders. We danced in a sort of three person circle all night.
6) The FCMOD show – Before the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery opened, we had a party there. It was for volunteers, their friends, and high school bands. I was honored to see many of my friends come, including Fiona. That’s where we are in the picture.
7) Saying good-bye the day before I left for DC – My mom was not happy about me driving across town before I’d packed, but I had to do it. I had to say goodbye to my friend. I insisted, because I hoped my friends on exchange would do the same for me.
Kenya is far away. However, after my many experiences over the past four years, the world doesn't feel quite so big. I have no doubt that I will make my way to Kenya one day, and when I do, I will be thrilled to see Fiona.