International students become adopted granddaughters for local couple

a group of people smile while eating dinner

By Rachel Berry

Sue and Ed Jones have lived in Oxford for 41 years. Their grandchildren have grown up and moved away, leaving a void in their lives.

Last year, they attended the ISSS Thanksgiving dinner and met three Chinese international students: Nuo Chen, Xiaoyin Ji, and Jingjing Luo. They instantly bonded and promised to keep in touch after the event.

Now, the group goes to dinner and has a party to celebrate each girl’s birthday. They went to the apple butter festival and have taken trips to You’re Fired and to museums in Cincinnati. Jingjing lived with the couple for a few days when she was having roommate trouble, and they got together over the summer when Jingjing was the only one of her friends still in Oxford.

a student cooks while an older woman stands and watches her

“They’re like part of the family now,” Sue said, describing the students as adopted granddaughters. “They laugh; we make them be part of the family, but I think they like it too.”

Sue and Ed love witnessing the students’ friendship even if they can’t always understand them.

“It’s always fun just to watch the three of them interact even when they’re speaking Chinese because we see them having a good time,” Ed said.

For Nuo, Xiaoyin, and Jingjing, the relationship has given them a family in a place far away from their own parents and grandparents.

“For international students, we come to a new country, a new different culture and land,” Nuo said. “It’s fun to have some adults who really care about you like a family member, so that’s fun for me, and I actually love them and I want to say thanks to them.”

This year, they all met again at the ISSS Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate the anniversary of their friendship.

“I think it’s a great chance for people of different cultures to interact,” Sue said. “I think it’s a shame that more Oxford people don’t take advantage of it."

Sue and Ed plan to follow Nuo, Xiaoyin, and Jingjing through graduation. Maybe at that time they’ll adopt a new group of friends, they say.

Global Neighbors Program

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