Two years ago, I was driving my family back from a weekend trip to Wilmington, North Carolina. With my wife and younger daughter sleeping in the back, my older daughter sat in the front fighting motion sickness and, as it turned out, sadness.

As we drove into the dusk, she started to cry. She didn't want to go back to Japan — didn't want to go back to school in Japan, at least. It was a long drive with plenty of time to talk. Just 8 years old, she could nevertheless articulate a compelling case.

I was teaching Japanese business law as a visiting professor at Duke University. The six-week course entailed a long enough stay to bring my family. Our girls attended a small private school that took short-term students.