I had a really exciting week because I was able to have lunch with Mrs. Coltman, a retired social worker, who used to share her home with international college graduates from Europe back in the late 1980s. Mrs. Coltman’s husband unfortunately past away in 1974, leaving Mrs. Coltman to raise her two children by herself. It was about a decade later, after her children were adults and she was living alone one of her co-workers suggested she sign up to be a host for an international student abroad company. Mrs. Coltman explained to me about all the troubles of losing your husband so early in life, and having to raise children by herself. All the lonely days, the stress of being a single parent, and the emotional disappointment of having planned to live your life with someone and having that plan taken away. When her children moved out is when she said loneliness really started to take a toll on her, so that’s the reason she signed up for the students abroad program.
Mrs. Coltman explained each international student would stay for three to six months at time. Being foreign was different than being an American student because foreign students want to explore, see things and they’d ask a lot of questions. Mrs. Coltman said that they really bonded over exploring different attractions and restaurants. She had a rule, if she brought the student out to eat then she picked the restaurant but if the students wanted to take her out ot eat they picked the restaurant. The foreign students did have to pay rent, but Mrs. Coltman and the students abroad company discussed a lower rate then what was common at the time. Mrs. Coltman was so happy to talk about this part of her life, I could see her eyes light up as she spoke about hosting the students. Mrs. Coltman told me she still keeps in touch with some of the students. She recently went to Germany for the wedding of someone she hosted thirty years ago. In 1989, Mrs. Coltman moved homes and the neighborhood she moved to was an older folks community so she was forced her to stop participating in the students abroad program. She told me if she could have, she definitely would still be apart of the program. Her story is one that just brightens my heart. She was self aware enough to realize that one way to combat loneliness is to be kind to others, even strangers. Her willingness to host international students really shows her good character and loving spirit.