DEAR ABBY: Our family is getting a foreign exchange student -- our first. Out of the blue, my parents decided he would get my room, and I'd have to share my sister "Susan's" room with her.
Susan is a year and a half older than I am. She has a bad attitude and calls me a geek and a nerd. Her friends are mean to me, too. I am not looking forward to rooming with her, but I don't want to seem selfish, so I'm going along with it. What can I do to get through 10 months of this?
Also, how do you interact with a foreign exchange student? Do I help him learn English, or just stay out of his way? I really have no idea. Thank you for any help you can offer. -- WARY IN THE WEST
DEAR WARY: You appear to be more mature than your older sister, who tries to make herself feel important by picking on her sibling. While I am sure she's no more thrilled than you are at giving up her privacy to accommodate the exchange student, I'm sure you can get through the next school year by showing respect for each other's boundaries and making an extra effort to learn to share.
The best way to interact with your foreign exchange student would be to offer your friendship -- and any other help he needs to adjust to his new surroundings. Introduce him to friends, show him around the neighborhood, and answer his questions just as you would like him to do for you if the situation were reversed.
This will not only be a learning experience for the young man, but also for you and your family. Hosting a foreign exchange student will open your mind and expand your horizons in ways you can't imagine. It could also be the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
Consider this: Ten months with your sister is a small price to pay for what will be an extremely rewarding experience.