Some days are fast-moving and adventurous. My daughter, Kris and Son Ken share a family plan for their phones since they live in the same city. While driving to work, Kris got a phone call meant for her brother’s family. The caller was asking her if she could take on an exchange student from Italy. She stopped the car and said, Yes! Her brother had done it the year before. Why not? The woman asking explained that she had to place two boys in 24 hours or they would lose their right to exchange. Zoom, Kris had a mountain of paperwork to fill out, proof of employment. She had to take pictures of her house and family and the dogs. Fax it to Italy. They approved her and asked if she knew anyone who would take the other boy.
“My brother and his wife,” of course. Ken said yes before he could consult with Laurie. And, just as fast, they were approved.
For Kris, as it turned out, it was her son’s birthday and they would be celebrating his birthday that day and picking up their student that night at midnight. When I get pictures, I’ll give an update.
We had an exchange student from Indonesia in 1986, that turned into a wonderful learning and exciting experience for all of us. We still keep in touch with Linda and her family. I visited them for the first time in 2004.
This is Linda with her daughter and son.
My youngest daughter was an exchange student to France in 1987. The son of one of her French sisters visited us last year. Now she is hosting a graduate student from Brazil. I will get to meet him at Thanksgiving.
Hosting students from all over the world is such an enriching experience. Understanding other cultures is an advance toward peace between nations, which is what got the initial public exchange program going after WWII. It was named AFS, which stands for American Field Service, an idea from soldiers who, like today, find people wonderful and endearing in an “enemy” country. I’m sorry to say, it hasn’t stopped wars. But, I’m pleased to say, there are many, many student exchange organizations still making inroads to peace.
I’m glad my kids are spreading the tradition to their families. If you ever feel you have time to have a temporary addition to your family, having an exchange student is a wonderfully rewarding experience. In fact students report that their exchanges have been life changing events when they learn how others live.