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The Kindness of Strangers

Hi Rudy,

Growing up in Hawaii on the island of Kauai, it was a rare opportunity for me to visit any of the other islands, let alone the continental United States, which we called the "Mainland". So when I attended the University of Hawaii and learned about the National Student Exchange Program, I jumped at the chance to attend college on the Mainland for a year without having to pay out-of-state tuition. Several of my friends were also going on exchange, but I didn't want to spend my year hanging around with the same people that I did back home, so I picked a school where I would be the only exchange student from Hawaii.

I chose New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces NM. The nearest major airport was about an hour away in El Paso TX, but there was a shuttle service I could take from the airport to the university. Well, due to mechanical problems that delayed my flight for hours, I realized I wasn't going to reach El Paso until late that evening and miss my shuttle. Now, for a seasoned traveler that may not have been a big deal, but I was a simple island girl, going on a major trip by myself for the first time, to a city where I didn't know anyone. To put it mildly, I was a little worried!

As I was waiting with the rest of the passengers for our flight to El Paso, I happened to notice the luggage tag on the briefcase of a gentleman standing near me. The address was in Las Cruces, and I got up the nerve to ask him if that was his final destination. It turns out he was going to Las Cruces, and when I explained my situation to him, he offered to drop me off at the university. We made plans to meet up in baggage claim, then I went to find a pay phone. I called my mom back on Kauai and told her the situation, gave her the man's name and address in Las Cruces, and assured her I would call her as soon as I got to the dormitory on campus. I think that's when she started getting gray hairs)

So anyway, I meet up with this gentleman in baggage claim, and we drive to Las Cruces. On the way, he points out the sights (the lights over there are Juarez Mexico) and tells me a bit about the area. Just when I think my problems are over, we reach the university. I think it was near 11 pm, and of course the dorm offices are closed. This nice gentleman went around with me until we ran into a student, who turned out to be the Hall Council President, who put us in touch with one of the Resident Advisors, who found out what room I was supposed to be in and got me a key. Of course, by that time my new roommate had decided I wasn't showing up that night, so there was a party going on in the background as I called my mom to reassure her that I'd made it safely...but that's another story!

Anyway, I thanked the kind stranger who'd gone out of his way to get my safely to my dorm room, and later sent him a care package of goodies from Hawaii. I'm a much better solo traveler now, but I'll never forget how much his assistance meant to me in that time of need. Thank you again, kind sir, wherever you are!


Betty Lou



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