Marie* is 18 years old, the youngest of the clan and the baby in my surrogate family. Yet only-child Marie is one of the most mature teenagers that I have ever known. She's in the middle of arguably her best summer ever - between high school and college years. No real responsibilities yet and only excitement and anticipation about what most people say are the "best time of my life."
Originally from Taiwan, Marie is visiting Texas for the summer and will be going back home in August, starting college in Taipei and studying Arabic. Despite not being born or raised in the US, her conversational English is impeccable and it's amazing to learn that most of it has been picked up from watching American movies and tv shows. Marie's current favourite shows are Once Upon a Time and Chopped, which she's wrangled the other surrogate siblings into watching with her. She's in constant wide-eyed amazement at the amount of food that we eat here in the US, having choked down fried chicken at least three times already in the few weeks she's been here. The biweekly trips to Costco are definitely not helping this perception. As most of the focus in the house has been around food, I might mention that Marie's favourite dessert is one that's "not too sweet" but Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream and cheesecake do not fall into that category.
The most remarkable thing about Marie is her quiet confidence. In a foreign country and at the mercy and whim of her crazy American cousins, Marie is unruffled in all situations and even sasses back at her older male cousins in English, making up funny and slightly insulting nicknames for them all. Despite the contagious lax summer atmosphere around the house, she continues to diligently read textbooks and study for classes that she hasn't even registered for yet. No doubt about it - this girl... young woman really, has got it going on. Plus she's helping me plan a trip to Asia!
*Names have been changed. To prevent embarrassment to others. Plus they don't know that I'm blogging about them. Shh!