Do you have a Facebook friend that you have never met? I have had a Facebook friend for over 10 years and have never met Omm Phu from Thailand. That all changed this past week. Omm is the mother of Eye, who was an exchange student at LQPV High School ten years ago. Omm and I became friends on Facebook shortly after Eye arrived in Madison.
I was an exchange student coordinator and my job was to find host families. David and Pat Redepenning from Madison took two girls, Eye from Thailand and Patricia from Germany at the same time. As a coordinator I have built a number of relationships with exchange students and their families. It was a very rewarding experience and I have kept in contact with all of them through social media. Social media is great that way. Eye’s mother and father are both on Facebook and Instagram. This past week Omm and Eye were in Madison and I finally got to meet Omm for the first time. I was a bit nervous about meeting her for some reason.
Omm and Eye have had a very busy month. Eye just graduated from the University of Michigan with an engineering degree. Omm flew from Thailand to Michigan to see her daughter graduate. After graduation they flew to Las Vegas where Eye was interviewing for a job. So they spent a few days in Vegas. Then they flew to Minneapolis and made the drive to Madison. Eye recently got her driver’s license so this was her first long road trip. She was excited about it. They stayed with David and Pat for a few days. Pat gave them the tour of Madison. She brought them to the radio station on Tuesday. Omm and I greeted each other with a hug and big smiles! We exchanged gifts. Eye was very excited because she had just found out that morning that she was offered a job in Michigan. My wife Roxie joined us for lunch at the Pantry. Everything is new for Omm, she loved the Pantry Cafe and meeting Phaeth, who works at the Pantry. Phaeth is originally from Thailand. I enjoyed listening to them talk in their language. Phaeth, is so nice, she made them dinner the next night. Omm and Eye had to have Sundrop with their lunch. Eye was showing her mom everything in Madison that she experienced as an exchange student back in 2012.
The next day I met Omm, Eye and Pat at the Madison Mercantile. Kris Shelstad has done a fantastic job with her new venture at the Merc. It’s the place to be in Madison. Omm and Eye loved the Madison Mercantile. Art, books, coffee and fellowship. What could be better? We had such a wonderful time just sitting, sipping our cappuccinos and visiting. Omm admitted she was nervous coming to Madison and meeting everyone, but she said Madison and the people are so nice and welcoming. She fell in love with the town. Omm and I are somewhat alike, we both enjoy taking pictures and learning new things. I found Omm to be very kind and sweet. She told me she reads my blog and when she gets home to Thailand she is going to look into writing a blog herself. I told her I would read her blog. Seeing her and Eye together was pretty special. They have a special mother daughter relationship. I enjoyed our time together very much. I finally got to see my Facebook friend.