SEPTEMBER 13, 2018

Going Full Circle: Reconnecting with Former Students Abroad – as Friends

Featured image: Stanley Yen (middle; WAL, 2007) with Debbie Chan (R) and her husband Gordon.

Debbie headshotby Debbie Chan, Washington Academy of Languages (WAL), Student Activities and Services

Sometimes it just takes a year or two (or how about a decade or more) to see how your friendships stand the test of time. Now with Facebook, email, and countless other social media programs, it’s so much easier to keep in touch with anyone at a moment’s notice.

We visited Yasuhiro Kawasaki, CityU, 2017 (Tokyo, Japan)
We visited Yasuhiro Kawasaki, CityU, 2017

Imagine if you could apply this to the international students you meet at WAL or CityU, after many years (or quarters) apart. Better yet, what if you had a chance to meet them in their hometown or country?

Maybe you were once their mentor, counselor, teacher, or in my case, activities coordinator. You may wonder, “What is so-and-so up to these days?”

I had that chance this summer.

Our family took a trip to Asia in July. We visited a few countries, including Japan and Singapore. Fortunately, I was able to make plans to visit a few former students in those countries.

It was a role reversal in many ways.

They were no longer the international student in Seattle anymore. This time, I was the international visitor in a new country and culture. They hosted, guided, and spent time with me and my family, as only friends would. We were so thankful!


Makoto Murai and Ai Sato and their families, WAL 2000 -2001
Makoto Murai and Ai Sato and their families, WAL 2000 -2001

Some of us go back 15 years or more, and one was since 2017. Yet, it was clear that because of this visit, our friendships deepened and I believe will stand the test of time. I hope our paths will cross again soon.

Going FULL CIRCLE with these former students, whom I call dear friends, was a huge treat! And yes, this is one “souvenir” you can’t buy, but you can certainly take it home…. to keep forever.