Letting her go – with a little help from my friends

In all my time blogging I rarely if ever mention the names of my children or wife.  This is as much for their protection as it is about a respect for their way of figuring out how to live into this crazy thing we call family. And though it feels like I am taking a bit of a risk here, today I want to, need to, introduce you to my daughter Zoë.

Zoë, the child formerly known as Thing 1, is our oldest.  She is the wondrous and miraculous child from my marriage of just over a decade to a good man who just happened to be a great buddy, not the lover or love of my life – oh and, well, a man. At just 15, Zoë seems to be an older soul than I and I am so blessed to be the mother of this amazing creature.  Zoë is happily attending an inner-city public school in the city of Atlanta and working very hard toward a future in film and video production.  I sure wish I had her vision, passion and drive when I was merely 15. On the contrary, I was a teenage wasteland of hormones, band camp and melodrama.

Zoë came to me at the end of last school year and said she wants to study abroad – next year.  Now, as old a soul as she is, she often has the head of an artist and might be hard pressed to remember to read the directions on a microwave meal before asking me how long to cook it.  She is a damn smart student, she has the grace to move in and out of a myriad of social situations that I can only admire and she is a tender and thoughtful companion for someone of a generation that is often cast as anything but. And she wants to go to France.  In January. For five months.

And we want her to go even though it means she will turn 16 half a globe away and mamma is often a little afraid of a world that is a freaky, crazy place.

I told her that if she did every jot of the research, paperwork and legwork that I would feel comfortable that she would be responsible enough to go.  And she has risen to the occasion.

Zoë has been accepted into the AFS study abroad program and while we are still waiting to learn about her placement in France we are now tasked with raising a significant amount of money to get her over there.

A budding young filmmaker, Zoë plans to study film at SCAD. She intends to spend time studying at the SCAD Lacoste campus, so her AFS experience in France will give her a big head start on being conversant in the language and culture of her future.

Now, I am no Rachel or Nadia.  I don’t have a fancy book to sell or a dozen speaking engagements to attend.  I’ve spent the better part of my adulthood putting myself through undergraduate and then seminary, working for non-profits and, well, blogging.   Though I now have a fantastic job where I thrive, I also have a mountain of my own student debt and about enough in savings to buy a real nice sandwich (and maybe a snooty craft beer).

So here it is – the pitch (and I hate asking for support of any kind, especially the dollars)…

Family and friends are already stepping up and helping make her dream possible but we are staring at a price-tag of nearly 10k for this little adventure. If everyone who reads this blog could pitch in a few bucks, we will be able to send Zoë off to the experience of a lifetime.

Here is a link to her fledgling blog where you can learn a little more about her and find a handy-dandy donation widget to help send this kiddo off to start the next phase of her journey.

Oh and here is a video she wrote, directed, acted in and produced/edited this past school year.



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706 responses to “Letting her go – with a little help from my friends”

  1. Congratulation for Zoe!

    It must be kind of scary to go abroad so young, I couldn’t have done that as a teenager.

    I hope she has faith in a good God who does not hate people for a tendency they had no choice over.

    Is it the case or did she leave religion altogether?

    It is my hope that in the future, there will be an increasing number of Christian gay stable family where God and Christ stand at the center of everything.

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe!

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son


  2. Wow, do we live in a parallel universe or what? My partner and I have two daughters…the oldest is 16. She came to us last year and wanted to go to Spain for a trip. BTW, she is a theatre student. Anyhow, I had all the same worries as you must have had and probably still are having. We said no. Maybe we should re-think it for a while longer. I am an adjunct theatre instructor at two colleges, and financially we could not afford it. Maybe you can share some of the ways you come up with raising money down the line. I will try and help in whatever small way as soon as I get my first paycheck in October. Oh yeah, adjuncts have to wait 6 weeks at the beginning of the school term each year for a paycheck. Best of luck to you and your family.

  3. My daughter spent a semester in Japan it was the longest 4 months of my life but I’m glad she went. I’m glad to help out because 1: The Cat in the Hat, I often refer to my two oldest grandchildren as Thing 1 and Thing 2, 2: I’ll be be able to say I helped her when she becomes the next Francois Truffaut and 3: I believe we are meant to share what God has freely given to us. P.S. You should write I book. If you did my wife and I would gladly edit for you pro bono.

  4. Well, I’ve never “studied” abroad. But I did spend almost 3 years stumbling around Europe way back in the day, smoking anything that would go in a pipe and trying to figure out the meaning of life. Anyway, I’m in on the support thing and wish her the best.

  5. Kimberly, Many years ago I studied abroad as a junior in college – one of most valuable experiences of my years of study. Also had AFS students in my High School classes some years ago. Wonderful students. I will send a check to AFS in Zoe’s name after Sept. 1. I wish you all the best in this endeavor. Janet L. Bohren

  6. I did a year abroad in high school with AFS (in Brasil). I cheer you on for your decision to support her in this. It will be one of the most important experiences of her life to this point.

    As for fundraising – I highly recommend you consider running an Indie Go-Go campaign or a Kickstarter. Zoe can think of some clever things she’d be willing to offer supporters as rewards (a hand-written postcard from France, pictures and videos of her experience, a blog about her time there etc…). I bet you can raise several thousand with some time and thought.