Oprah with graduates of Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy
Photo: Chris Craymer


My house may be torn apart (pick up the March issue from newsstands for the story of its redo), but my life is fuller than ever.

If you're a regular O reader, you already know of my travails building a school from the ground up in South Africa. From finding the right leadership to putting together a staff to selecting every single student, it's been a solid five-year learning curve.

In December the second class graduated. Sixty-eight more girls are now off to college, most in South Africa. Nine of them, however, are studying here in the United States, like seven of their predecessors from the class of 2011. These sweet 16 come to my home for weekends, holidays, and spring breaks, which means I have a house full of teenage girls blossoming into beautiful young women and talking about boys, classes, roommates, American culture, and their futures. Lots of poignant, fun, and LOL conversations. The volume in my life has been turned up full blast, and I'm loving it!

All my teaching instincts—not to mention mothering instincts I didn't know I had—are getting exercised regularly. Because as those of you who have done this for years know for sure, there's always some issue going on with teenage girls as they discover themselves and the world around them. Multiply that by ten when it involves coming to a new country: so many experiences, dilemmas, challenges, and opportunities we seasoned citizens take for granted. After the girls' first week here, I asked, "What's surprised you most about America?" "The large portions of food you get in restaurants" was one frequent response. "So much of everything" was another. And then there was this: "People you met yesterday, who seemed so happy to know you, may not even speak to you tomorrow." Ah, a new learning curve begins.

And me? I have never been happier or more fulfilled. Their futures so bright, it burns my eyes.

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