In 1975, I was in third grade at Garfield Elementary. My life completely changed in an amazing way. Idaho had allowed an influx of Vietnamese refugees to come in, and several of them came to my school. The family that I came to know consisted of two adults and 18 children. The oldest daughter became a teacher’s assistant in my class. We spent time learning Vietnamese culture, language and dance. I became best friends with Thu. We went back and forth between our houses after school. At my house, we ate oranges and played with my teddy bear hamster. At her house, we ate tomatoes and played with her brother’s garter snake. A bit different but all together the same. I am grateful for the experience and the journey. I miss my friend but am very lucky for having known her. It did not dawn on me until I was an adult that they were not all one family. Two adults taking on the overwhelming responsibility of 18 children. That was just one of the many households that needed our help and our friendship. I will be forever grateful for the experience and the way it shaped my life.
Laurie Samuelsen, Seattle