When H'Luien's sponsors, Jeff and Billie Jo Devine, offered their home to her to come stay and experience life in the United States for 6 months, she was greatly moved and grateful. She would finally have the chance to actually see and experience the life that she had only been exposed to through the letters and pictures she received from her sponsors.
Besides the freezing winter weather that welcomed her as she got of the plane, there was a major language barrier that also existed. However, through constant exposure and tutoring sessions with students at Elizabethtown College and other supporters of Brittany's Hope, her English skills have grown exponentially. After seeing the difficulties she had with the language when I first met her in December, I was recently given the opportunity to sit down with her and see the immense progress she has made.
While speaking with her, H'Luien only had good things to say regarding the experience she has had so far: "I like being here because it's different, the culture, the people, the food...I met a lot of people. I can practice and improve my English." H'Luien has also had the chance to experience weather she never will in Vietnam: "For the first time in January, I saw snow. It is unbelievable! I took a lot of pictures."
During our time together, she also explained how Brittany's Hope has helped her have the life she has today. She explained the unique relationship she, as well as the other children at the House of Love, has built with her sponsors: "The children only talk about their sponsor parents. I'm so excited because I get to know my sponsor parents better here." She spoke about how the other children at the center have huge smiles on their faces when talking about their sponsor parents and that they refer to them as just "mom" and "dad," talking about them more often then they do about their birth parents.
Prior to coming to live at the House of Love, H'Luien explained that "when I was young, 7 or 8, I had to cook by myself. I stayed home to care for my sisters and clean [the] house. We [didn't] have a lot of time to study...During the flooding season, we [would] have to use a table to cross between [the] rooms at home." Without moving to the House of Love, this type of life would have continued, preventing her from receiving a proper education, making a career in hotel or restaurant management nothing but a dream, rather than the reality that it now is as a result of the care, support and education she has received through Brittany's Hope.