Ilija comes to town

This info is a bit late but better late than never, right….

In April and early May, for three weeks we hosted a 17 year old Bosnian high school student who was in town attending the a leadership training program created by the US Department of State, held at the University of Washington (UW). We found out about hosting through the UW FUITS (Foundation for International Understanding Through Students) program. In the last few years, via FUITS, we’ve hosted graduate students from China, England and Turkey, for up to a month. This time the student would be a teenager, so we weren’t sure what to expect.

How would a male, only child, 17, from Bosnian deal with a 4 year old Chinese toddler, who likely would follow him around the house, talking non stop about airplanes, Orca whales and periodically singing John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane?”

Turned out, those two immediately, became just like peas and carrots. While KW was in India, Will and I met Ilija 4/20 at the UW and return home. Ilija and Will spent that first evening and the entire next day reading books and playing with the lego set Ilija had brought for Will as a present. Will bonded so tight that 30 seconds after Ilija walked out of the house Monday AM for his first day at the Leadership program, Will turned to me with tears streaming down his face.

The Bosnian group numbered about 15 and we participated in several group events; Mariners game, celebration party at the local Bosnian restaurant and good-bye party at the end of their visit. Besides showing him the popular Seattle sites (Ballard Locks, the troll, etc) Ilija wanted to “shop” so we took him to Nordstrom’s, the Apple store and the outlet mall north of town on I-5.

We were extremely impressed with this entire group of teens. So outgoing, whip smart and curious to learn as much as possible about our lives in Seattle and our country. Wish I had been half as mature as these folks, when I was 17 years old.

baseballIlija (right) and fellow Bosnian student attending their first Baseball game. We spent a few innings trying to explain the game but I think most of the students found the food/snacks more interesting. Ilija1 Ilija2 Ilija3

The highlight, at least for Will was the party held at the Bosnian restaurant. One student connected his (recently purchased) iPhone to the sound system and played some traditional, popular Bosnian songs. All the students jumped up and started dancing. Naturally, Will followed Ilija into the dancing mass of humanity and began to dance. Ilija picked Will up and put him on his shoulders, the crowd irrupted and Will was the life of the party.

I expect great things from these students. They truly are the future leaders of their country. Ilija has one more year of high school and then would like to attend university in the States, perhaps even the UW so we’ll keep in touch to see if we can help him out in any way we can.

And lastly, we now we have an open invitation to visit Bosnia.

About Scott

Training to qualify for the Boston Marathon and simplify our life, as a stay at home dad.
This entry was posted in Memories, School, Seattle, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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