The photo above is of Corina Nour, the Moldovan student who lived with us while she completed her Masters' work at Emporia State University.
Nancy and I are now full-time empty nesters. Corina Nour, the young Moldovan woman who came to live with us in 2003, has graduated and moved on to what we hope will be a wonderful life.
In the summer of 2003 Nancy and I were living a very quiet life. We’d just gotten back from a short vacation in Chicago. As soon as we got home, we began poring over the latest issues of the Gazette. We began with the crime blotter, catching up on the nefarious activities we’d missed while we were in Chicago. There was the usual dose of speeders and disobeyers of stop signs and traffic signals. There were more than a few “dogs at large” and note made of “worthless checks.” It felt good to be home.
After a while Nancy relayed some information she’d just read. Glen and Carol Strickland were looking for host families for a couple of international students who needed a home for the upcoming high school year. One of the students was a young girl from Moldova. “Do you think we might be able to host this girl?” she asked. After a bit of gentle persuasion I agreed to make the application.
I didn’t realize it then, but a wonderful story was about to unfold.
We were expecting her to arrive in Emporia in early August. She arrived in New York in fine shape. However, as soon as she got into the terminal the lights went out. That was at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon on August 13th. They didn’t come back on until August 15th. It was the great summer blackout of 2003. What a welcome to America! She finally arrived in Wichita a few days after power was restored. She was easy for Nancy and me to spot. She appeared to be the most dazed and confused person in the terminal. After a few introductions we went to get her luggage. About a half-hour later we realized that the airline had lost that. Nancy and I both wondered what she must be thinking. “So this is what America is all about.” I made arrangements with the airline to deliver the bags to Emporia when they were found and we headed home.
As soon as we got home we took her to Wal-Mart to get her toothpaste, toiletries, pajamas and a few other things to see her through till her luggage arrived. I’ll never forget how amazed she was when she surveyed all the toothpaste. I think she was on the verge of tears. She told us she’d never seen anything like that in her life. In Molvoda, getting toothpaste meant one brand.
We got through the tough patch alright. The luggage arrived and Corina started school. She settled right in. One of the things we saw right away was that she was determined to make the most of the opportunity she’d been given. She really understood that America is a meritocracy and that hard work pays off. I never had to bird dog her about homework. She just dug right in. Her grades reflected her intense commitment to excellence.
The year moved so fast. We knew we’d come to love Corina, but we didn’t know how much until it was time to take her back to the airport for her flight home. We cried and clung to her. And she cried and clung to us. She didn’t want to leave. But, unfortunately, sometimes the good things in life do have to end.
Corina got back to Moldova and settled back into her life. She completed her undergraduate work in Romania. We continued to correspond with her. Somewhere in the process I saw an opportunity for her to come back. We offered to underwrite her first year of Masters’ work. It wasn’t long till we were welcoming her back to Emporia.
She settled in once more. As it was with her high school work, she excelled in everything she did. She was awarded a graduate assistantship. She got a part time job at the Granada. We taught her to drive. She got a license and a car. We couldn’t see it clearly then, but these things were all part of the Americanization of Corina.
She graduated just before Christmas with a Master’s in Business. Her G.P.A. was 4.0.
She left for San Francisco a week or so ago. She starts a full-time job with Cisco Systems in mid-January.
So, Nancy and I are empty nesters once more. We miss Corina already, but we also feel very gratified. We’ve been a part of something special. A young woman, from the poorest country in Europe, has blossomed when the door of opportunity was opened. It’s the kind of story, I think, that could only take place in America.