My International Kids: Jade

My International Kids: Jade [1]

By Rabbi Corinne Copnick

I was beginning to contemplate moving to California where two of my daughters already resided, and my first grandchild was on the way. A third daughter was heading for California as well, and my fourth daughter was now living on the West Coast of Canada. It was lonely living by myself in Toronto when I was used to bustling activity, company for meals, and youthful enthusiasm all around me. So, even though I might be leaving for the U.S. soon, I agreed to host another international student. Jade was my first student visitor from mainland China.

A rather plain and initially awkward girl from a rural area, teenage Jade was surprisingly astute when it came to financial matters. She had a business mind like a steel trap. Her father ran a shoe factory in China, and he had sent her to study English, so that she could help him do business with Western countries. She was thrilled to be in Canada, so excited at the prospect of learning, and honored to have the responsibility with which her father had entrusted her at an early age.

When I looked at the clumpy, unattractive shoes Jade wore, I realized that she indeed had a lot to learn if her father’s factory was to please Western tastes. But Jade was a fast learner, a veritable sponge! With her inquisitive mind, she absorbed and analyzed everything she saw around her. Unlike the other Asian girls from Taiwan and Japan whom I had previously hosted, however, Jade was lacking in charm and polish, and she was smart enough to realize it. She extended her course of study for another few months – to absorb charm and polish, of course!

While I am enjoying life in California now with my own children and grandchildren close by, I often wonder how my international kids, my “adopted” Toronto family, fared when they returned to their own homes in other lands. Are Llazlo and Olga, the inseparable Yugoslav couple for whom no room was too small, who would gladly share a single bed to remain together, still a team?

And dear Lily from Taiwan? My guess is that, after traversing the world for a while, she would opt to marry the well-heeled, classy suitor her parents favored, one who could give her a spacious apartment in Hong Kong. I suspect that she will not send her children away to boarding school, as her parents did with her. She will be at home with them when they are young.

Mariko from Japan knew that she was too “Western” for most Japanese men’s tastes, so I imagine that she soon became the principal of the Japanese school where she taught first-level English to foreigners and eventually married the Japanese suitor educated in the United States — who, on her behalf, hand-delivered a Japanese-style rice-maker, made in New Jersey, to me in Toronto.

I hope that Danilo married his Brazilian sweetheart, and that while they were raising their family in relative luxury in Brazil, they also did something to alleviate the poverty in which so many families live in that country. Years later, I heard from him via Facebook that he had achieved his dream of working in the airline industry.

Khaled had already decided to avoid paying the heavy “bride price” demanded for a Bedouin bride in Saudi Arabia by marrying the Chinese student he fell in love with in Toronto. Also, because the Bedouins, from whom he originated, tend to marry their cousins, he hoped to circumvent the genetic sickle cell disease that plagued his own family by marrying “out.”

As for entrepreneurial, sharp-as-a-tack Jade, I would hazard a guess that she quickly became a sophisticated, prime footwear entrepreneur. She likely put marriage and family on the back burner, delaying having children until her career goals were met.

Lots of naches from my international kids!

©️Corinne Copnick, Toronto, 2008; Los Angeles 2017. All rights reserved.

[1] Adapted from Corinne Copnick, Cryo Kid: Drawing A New Map. (New York: iUniverse, 2008). Finalist 2009 Next Generation Awards of Excellence.