Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Additions to the Family

Back in the 70's we had a huge house which looked like something right out of the Adams Family TV show. With two of us adults and five children, we still rumbled around in the huge house. So what does one do? Open the family up to an exchange student. Well, actually, several exchange students each one from a different country. Not all at the same time, mind you, but there was a time when we had a few at the same time.

Our first student came for almost a year from Finland. He was a very interesting individual - very reserved but he fit in well. He spent much of his time with other students from other countries - Germany and Yugoslavia as I recall. It was more challenging for our boys. When his visit ended and he went back to Finland he let us know that he wished he had not spent so much time with Europeans and had spent more time experiencing our culture. But it was a good year and we have tried to keep in touch with him. It's thirty years now and the last we heard he was involved with the national office of communications in Finland. He sent us a picture of him, his son, and his boat and he looked well and happy.

Not long after he went home we got a boy from Mexico (he had grown up in Cuba but his family moved to Mexico). He was temporary - a lot of fun - and went to another family in our town. In the meantime we got a boy from Ecuador and he was a sketch. Never a bad word - but a lot of mischief. He would slip bottles of wine onto our shopping cart and when Joyce would tell him to put them back on the shelf he would cuddle up to her and say (with a sly grin), "but Mom......." And he'd put the wine back and bring back several bottles of hot sauce like Tabasco. He was irrepressable and full of fun. We've lost touch with him be we watch television news to see if his name might come up in some unlikely event in Ecuador.

Then there was the boy from Belgium who was dropped off at out front door one day. (the family he was assigned to said he was unsociable) He was anything but - he fit into the family circle perfectly - he and Amy played violin together. It was very hard to see Leonardo and Paul go home - they were a delight and became a close part of our family. By the way, Leonardo volunteered our home to a boy from Iran and that did not work out well at all. The picture above is of Paul a year ago. He has come to see us a couple of times over the years and today he is a doctor serving in Afghanistan. He;s been there off and on for many years and in some other countries as well. A number of years ago we visited his family in Antwerp, Belgium and they were a delight.

Our last student (they stayed for a year) was from Japan. She was a lot of fun as well. She played the piano along with Amy and fit in very well. One time she gave us Japanese clothes and we created quite a scene when we went into a nearby restaurant dressed in our outfits. Again, it was very hard to see her go home.

IN short, these were some of the really rich moments in our lives. We learned about other cultures - and they experienced a reasonably normal American family for a year.
We can truthfully say, 'thanks for the memories.'

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