When my oldest daughter was in High School she received a Rotary scholarship to Denmark for a year. She had sought out the experience as she wanted to be free from parents and our particular school and when she found out it was Denmark, she worried about learning such a difficult language.
The Rotarians said, “You are the one we think can handle such a tough language and learn it.”
Off she went and had a wonderful amazing year; minus the correct accent they could all understand her by the Winter Holidays. She has been back several times for visits and the wedding of her best friend, and the arrival of children.
Not allowed to work during the ambassadors’ experience, her family was to send her an allowance each month, and we sent holiday gifts to her host families for her too. We thought $100 a month would be what we could afford and Library Girl and I cleaned a small office building each week to send her that amount of money. At the end of the experience, we found out that other students were receiving between $500 and $1000 a month allowances from home. We did not know how she survived as Denmark was one of the most expensive countries.
One family in particular had taken our daughter into their lives and made sure she had some childcare opportunities and funds to go to the swimming pool, theatre, and other events; they included her in their family experience.
This family came to visit us and RV through Canada to see the wilderness, bears, and Mounties. This visit gave us the opportunity to return the favor. Best friend, her husband, 6 year old daughter, 3 ½ year old son and the wonderful parents/ grandparents arrived here nearly a month ago. We went on a lovely sailboat ride to show off Puget Sound and gathered up all our camping gear to share, and then rented an SUV to get them to the spot to pick up their RV for 17 days in Canada.
Right away it felt like one’s favorite Aunt and Uncle had arrived with cousins and grandies! Warm, gracious and happy to be off on an adventure and so ready to enjoy life and discover what their new surroundings had to offer. We only anticipated that language would be a problem and by the time we sat down to our first meal together we were communicating first hand.
By the way, I served the Chicken Pot Pie Recipe from the Harvest Potluck e-cookbook http://patriciaswisdom.com/2009/11/harvest-potluck-unicef-fundraiser/, free from this site. Once again it was a prize winning supper and the fresh CSA (community supported agriculture) salad added to make it a feast. Washington strawberries were at their peak and we added Danish Havarti Cheese and Rainier cherries and we were all laughing and having a good time.
It Girl joined her host family for her 2 weeks of vacation and celebrated her birthday in Canada too. Kamloops, Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper were all visited and their amazing photographs rekindled memories from my childhood. Travelling now with cell phones and wireless computers, they found even more adventures and new GPS routes to embark upon. The children still enjoyed climbing on rocks, hiking, seeing all the wildlife and told the stories of seeing the bears along the way.
Tak (thank you), Selv tak (You are welcome), far (father), mor ( mother), bedstefader (Grandfather) and bedstemoder (Grandmother) – we all added to the conversation at the table and we all could understand what ZIP wanted right away!
The children and I decorated an ice cream birthday cake for my husband to help him celebrate his big day. I think having children to play cars and draw with kept him from being a Gloomy Gus (The Danes work a 35 hour work week and get more vacations and can retire at age 62 and have health care! And this was a bit overwhelming to a fellow who has to work until age 72 to break even and has had to save up vacation days for years to go on a 5 week bike tour at age 64)!
Everyone off to the airport to return home to regularly scheduled lives and Zip keeps checking all the bedrooms to see if they might be lingering there still. 10 people in the house and it felt full of life and energy. New friends and children’s hugs created priceless memories.
Have you rekindled some old acquaintances this summer or made some new friends in this season?
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