SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A 76-year-old woman opens her home to a 16-year-old student from France.
Eileen Deal saw an ad online about a French student looking to study abroad in America. Deal spent a large portion of her retirement in France before moving to Springfield. So for her, it was an easy decision to try to house a teenager from a country she still owns property in.
“You don’t have to have the language. You don’t have to be young or old or anything, you just have to have a room and space for a kid and space in your heart to include someone in your family, your home,” says Deal. Her foreign exchange student has been staying with her for about a week.
Deal has lived a life of helping others. After retiring, she joined the Peace Corps and helped create job opportunities in Bulgaria. She helped build a truck stop and a sewer system for a city. Her efforts would eventually award her a key to the city and the mayor made her an official Bulgarian citizen.
After Bulgaria, Deal moved to France until 2014 when she moved back to Springfield, where she was born and raised. It had been 50 years since the last time she lived in the Ozarks. She wanted to reintegrate into the community by helping others in need.
“I’ve been in Safe to Sleep, The Crisis Center, Ozark Food Harvest, The Walking Books, and I’ve done some work with Habitat, and I’m going to Ozarks food Harvest,” says Deal, who also has worked with mentoring youth in Eden Village.
The organization Deal used to find her exchange student is called the Pan Atlantic Foundation.