Ani from Georgia wrote this letter to her host family in Colorado as part of our Share the Love essay contest. Her letter was selected as one of three contest winners. Congratulations!
"Dear American family, I am writing this letter and all kinds of emotions fill my mind. I don't even know where to start. It's unbelievable how six months have passed by so quickly... I absolutely remember the first days when I was still a confused and a little bit afraid girl, having the very first days of my exchange year.
I arrived at the Denver airport and my brain kept saying: "You're really here.Your biggest dream has come true." Few minutes later, a tall, pretty woman and a cute girl were hugging me in the middle of the airport, saying they were worried because I was being late, which I was, as I got confused and walked all over the place until I found them. Those people were you, mom and you Shane, the sister I've always dreamed of having. We got home and that afternoon I realized the very first dinner that we were having was tacos, which I had on my application as the first dish I wanted to taste. I knew from that moment and even before how caring of me all of you would be. It all felt like home from the very first moment and I remember how natural calling you mom, dad, sister and brother was and how it happened without even realizing it.
Now as I am looking back at all the memories we have created together I realize how lucky I am to be here, and how I have been enjoying every single moment through this journey. My favorite time is Christmas, all of us being together and enjoying holidays is the best way I could think of regaining energy and just being utterly happy. Last year this time everything was so different and I didn't know I was chosen for flex and that I would have a home halfway across the world. This year hasn't been easy, or perfect but it has been more than perfect. It has been dreamy, unbelievable, indescribable. You have always been there for me throughout the journey and there is still much more to come during next three months. I have a weird feeling when I realize I am going back. It does not feel like I am going home, it feels like I am leaving home to go home, because I have two homes now. Both of them are absolutely perfect in their own ways.
I can't think of the day when I have to say goodbye to you and this incredible, astonishing journey in the USA. However, this will not be a goodbye, but a "see you later, next destination is Georgia!". I will always be grateful for everything that you've done for me and how you've opened your door and hearts to me. You are my family: my mom, dad, sister and brother. You are the best thing that has happened to me, ever, and I feel the luckiest. I love you from the bottom of my heart,
Your Georgian daughter/sister, Ani"