October 4, 2010

David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 1



     Perhaps if I’d retired to my porch rocking chair, spending my hours catching up on all the old magazines and books piled in my study “for future use,” I wouldn’t have had a teenager living in my house. But then, David, our German exchange student, brought much excitement into my life.

     My husband, Monte, and I, had just returned from a visit to Germany, where our son, Nolan, held a post-doctoral position at the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (German: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften Eingetragener Verein).

     My teeange neighbor, Ryan, a junior high school student, was studying German. When I handed him a pile of fliers and thick newspapers he could use for extra credit in his class, he and his siser, Betsy, told us about David. Perhaps his story would make an interesting newspaper article.

     I contacted the school for more information, and learned I would have to interview him immediately. He was leaving town because no local family was available to host him. He current temporary host, Charlie, worked three jobs and lived in a small apartment.

     David was scheduled to talk to classes all day Friday. I hoofed it over to the school, knowing that was a good way to hear his story. Before I left I told Monte it was too bad that the neighbors were unable to host him. With four teenagers, they would be perfect. However, their sleeping room was limited.

     We have room“ Monte said.

     He was correct. We were living in a house with four bedrooms on the second floor, and a finished attic. However, I didn’t want to become immersed in an unfamiliar, energetic high school scene. Nor did I want to change my lifestyle. Freed from the kitchen, I no longer cooked regularly, and had no desire to do so. I am attempting to lose weight and we eat atypically.

     I pondered the situation. Monte’s comment, combined with the interest of the teens in the neighbor’s house, gave me an idea.

     I talked with Rene and Tom, parents of Betsy and Ryan. We’d already been involved with our neighbors in several long-term crises on our block. Perhaps we could now join in an exciting adventure? Perhaps we could “team-sponsor” David: we’d supply the housing, laundry facilities and breakfast, and they’d provide the socialization and meals.

     There were a couple of other advantages. Our neighbor, Christa, was a German native, and could provide David with a touch of “home.” And David, being 18, would require less supervision than a younger student.

     I went to the school and met the brown-haired, blue-eyed, student who demonstrated a sense of humor.

     Ironically, our planes had almost passed “like ships in the night.” We left for Germany on November 1. He arrived in our community November 3.

     With all parties in agreement, we approached the exchange student agency. The adventure began on December 12, 2000.

To read David, Our German Exchange Student Part 2, click on David, Our German Exchange Student: Part 2.





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