Saturday, July 18, 2009


Hyun Wook is back in Korea now, but he has the distinction of being the homestay student who lived in my house the longest--6 years--from 2002 to 2008. He came to Washington, learned English at a local community college, went on to get his A.A. degree from that same college, then transferred to the University of Washington and finished his B.S. degree in computer science.

Here is a picture of him soon after he moved to my home.
Hyun Wook and Teddy Bear. Teddy Bear adored Hyun Wook and thought he belonged to him

Here is a picture taken the day I said goodbye to Hyun Wook at SeaTac Airport six years later. If you wonder why my smile is pained, my nose is red and my eyes are brimming with tears, well, quite frankly, I felt like I was losing my son!
Six years is a long time and I have so many pictures and so many memories, I can't even begin to share them all. However, the highlight was his parent's first visit in 2005. They stayed in my guest room and we had a wonderful time visiting and getting to know each other. They are among the best international parents I think I have ever met!
His mom enjoyed making Korean meals for her son, and Hyun Wook was as happy as a lark eating his mom's home cooking again. I quickly understood why. She was an awesome cook. Kim Chee? If his mom makes it, I'll eat it! Store-bought kim-chee absolutely pales in comparison to hers.
Here is a Korean meal Hyun Wook's mom made for us. I don't remember the names of the different dishes, but I do know it was all very delicious. Quite frankly, I enjoy eating food from other countries much more than I enjoy American food.
Hyun Wook was an amazing student. When he transferred to the University of Washington, they were turning away a lot of students who wanted into the computer science program. Only those with very high GPA's could get in.
Hyun Wook, his mom withthe University of Washington mascot--the Husky. (Go Huskies!)

Hyun Wook easily made the grade and was accepted without any problems. And, he graduated with honors!
We all still miss you very much, Hyun Wook. It just hasn't been the same here without you.
Hyun Wook and Athena.

We hope you are having a happy birthday in Korea this year.
Happy Birthday, Hyun Wook!


Homestay Mama


  1. Happy Birthday.
    I think it is time for your to pack your bags and take an Asian trip. An Asian adventure is in store for you.........go!!!

  2. What a lovely birthday tribute - and bravo on the piano performance! BTW, I have something for you at my place - come on over and get it;-)

  3. six years is a long time no wonder you cried when he left....
    You asked about my garden so I thought I'd answer while I'm here. I have a canopy of trees very close togeather that were here when we moved on 20yrs ago. 13 yrs ago we planted all of the big palms and alot of the ferns and bird nest ferns. Because they are so protected we don't have any worries with frost.As of yet I have never lost any-thing in the rain forest section of the garden. There is not many palms that grow in Toowoomba as they also need to be very sheltered. I hope this answers your question...

  4. OH! That was such a beautiful story but so heart wrenching to say good-bye! I hope you are all reunited soon. Do you ever travel to any of your home-stay students' homes in their countries? I bet doors are WIDE OPEN to you and you could travel for next to nothing! What a thrill it would be for all of you.

    You are such a lovely woman and a true inspiration. I so wish we could have met this summer but our plans were canceled due to the economy. :(

    Happy Birthday, Hyun Wook! Blessings to you and your family!

  5. I can only imagine how sad you must have been. Six years is such a long time but what an amazing young man he is and just wonderful accomplishments he has made.

  6. It was so lovely hearing you play. Extra special as it was my birthday yesterday..or today for you! On the 28th at least :)

    Sending a big warm hug your way.

  7. You are too good to me!!! I've just lived a crazy life but at least it's now paying off in having the stories to tell. I write them mostly for my children and the fact that others want to read never ceases to amaze me! I am following your dietary advice!

  8. What a cool thing you do! Hyun Wook certainly was a great student to have live with you, thanks for sharing the pictures. No wonder you cried when he left after being here with you six years! Who wouldn't? I think this is the first time I've seen this blog of yours.