International high school exchange student from Ghana in formal dress with her host family’s dog in Wisconsin
There's nothing but love between Natalie and Gidget these days!

Overcoming a Fear

Life gives us a chance every single day as we run through its changing motions. A chance to meet great people, moments of joy, sadness and laughter, and above all, a chance to make positive impacts in the lives of the many we are connected with each day.

Whenever we talk of great friendship, most people think of two entities with the same anatomy while very few think about great and long-lasting friendships with animals. At the beginning of my exchange year, I was placed with a family that had pets. They held in their bosom one of my greatest fears: a dog. It was affectionately called Gidget. The start of our friendship was a tough one until the mid-part of my stay with my host family. Today all my fears are gone! Gidget and I have become the best of friends. She has been wonderful to me. I have found myself playing with her with such great amusement and joy, and it is sad that the bridge of distance will soon be between us. She has been a part of the amazing adventure this year, and like I promised my family, I'm going to get a dog of my own someday and help people who still have the kind of fear I used to have. Animals can be just as amazing and wonderful as any great human friend can be.

—Natalie (YES, Ghana), hosted by the Marks family (WI)