by Martha

Who would think that the winds of a hurricane could blow in love? Believe it or not, Hurricane Katrina actually turned into a love story for IINTERNATIONAL NEIGHBORS member Joyce.

In 2005 Joyce was a newly arrived international graduate student at the University of New Orleans (UNO) when the hurricane struck. When all students were warned to evacuate, she and some friends headed north. As she fled, she had no paycheck and only $300 in cash. Since UNO was unable to reopen for classes after the storm, Joyce had to find a university that would accept her as a visiting student. Fortunately, The University of Michigan gave students from New Orleans free tuition as evacuees, so she and her friend chose to come to UM.

Meanwhile, a couple named Jim and Priscilla approached the University of Michigan to offer their Ann Arbor condominium rent free to Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Joyce and several friends jumped at the opportunity to avail themselves of their generosity. Sadly, the condo was only suitable for three people. So Joyce agreed to find other accommodation. Jim and Priscilla introduced her to their friends, a couple named Jo and Harvey, who graciously took Joyce in to live with them.

Joyce lived with Jo and Harvey for four months. They never accepted any room or board payments for the stay. They helped Joyce learn English by speaking slowly and explaining things. Eventually Joyce returned to her studies in New Orleans but not before meeting Jo’s son Brad who lived in Ypsilanti.

Brad and Joyce found they had a lot in common so they continued to see each other even after Joyce returned to UNO. On one trip, Brad drove to New Orleans with a load of household items. Who could not fall in love with a handsome man bearing the gift of furniture?

Four years later, in 2009, Joyce married Brad and became a member of Jo’s extended family. Now Joyce and Brad have a cute little boy named Leo, age 2.

So who are these generous people who helped Joyce?

Priscilla and Jo, are both active members of IN.   So this is truly an INTERNATIONAL NEIGHBORS love story after all!