Route 66: 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Foreign Exchange Adventures School Year 2007-08

This posting will be for the 2007-08 school year.

The placement season for the 07-08 school year actually started in February or so, but we'll jump ahead to about June 2007.  The previous year's students have returned home and we're working on things for the upcoming school year.

Our group out here continues to grow a little bit at a time and we ended up placing 6 students in the Colorado portion of Team Wade.  Of those 6, I hosted 2 young men and another IEC in Manitou Springs; Melissa hosted a young lady.

Melissa hosted Isabella from Sweden.  By all accounts, these two ladies had a wonderful year together.  Melissa was nice enough to open her home to this young lady and I think they both learned a tremendous amount about one another and about themselves too.  During this year I supervised Melissa & Isabella and she supervised my boys and I.  We got to hang out from time to time and shared a few dinners over the course of the year and I consider Melissa to be a very good friend, unfortunately, with schedules being what they are, we just don't get to see each other much.

For my part, I hosted two amazing young men.  Mattia is from Italy, (Roma) and David is from Spain (Madrid).  As this was my first real opportunity to be a parent, on my own, I had HUGE amounts to learn.  Oh sure, I was somewhat of a Dad for awhile, when I was married, but that was for a short time & when things got tough, well things just got taken care of I guess.

So, back to the school year.  Originally, I had only planned to host Mattia, since he was a 1/2 year student.  You know, I thought it would be a good way of "trying out" the program.  Mattia's Momma actually emailed me and asked me some really great questions; the best one was if I would consider hosting
2  students instead of just one.  After considering everything, (for about 34 seconds), I decided it would be a good thing to host 2 boys.  It was a Wonderful thing! 

Mattia & David actually arrived within an hour of each other.  We stuffed their bags into the little bitty Saturn and ran them home to drop off the bags and then we went for some grub.  During dinner, we went through  the house rules and began getting our family in order. Since the guys got here about a week and a half before school started, we got them registered and then head out for a few days to "discover" Colorado.

The boys and I took part in the annual Kansas/Colorado rafting trip along with Franzie and Dani F.  This trip is always a blast because we share it with our friends from Kansas.  On average we have about 50 students, family members and IECs that attend.  It's great because we pretty much get the whole river to ourselves.  When we go we do a full day rafting with lunch on the beach.  Great pictures, too.  Very Cool stuff!

We decided to start a new family tradition this year and we decide to get our photos "professionally" done.  All in all they turned out well, but it's tough to pay a pretty good amount of money & then think "I could have done that or better".  The guys look great and I, well, I look kinda like a Dad.  ;)

In October, the boys and I took a trip to California.  Since this was after both boys had acquired their driver's permits we decided to rent a Mustang convertible!  As far as you know, the boys did not drive the car... ;)   We took time out to spend a few days on the coast, visited a wine tasting room - that would be Bonny Doon, we hung out at the beach, had great food, spent some time in San Francisco, rented a H3, took in some sun and relaxed...

Our next big thing was a visit from David's parents- Juan Luis & Chus.  It was great to meet them and they had a good time doing the touristy stuff in Colorado.  While they were here they cooked for us, we cooked for them and we had dinner out.  What a Great visit! Of course, the adults found a common ground in wine appreciation. 

The boys took a ski trip to Winter Park.  I've heard the skiing was pretty good, however since I don't ski, I was just the driver.  As luck would have it, the snow started and snowed and snowed and snowed.  I SO hate driving in a blizzard, it's just No fun.

We also took a ski trip to Breckenridge in December with Melissa, Isabella and a few other girls in the area.  Again, the boys had fun, but of course, the snow started up and made travel rather unpleasant.  Yes, yes, I know, I's Colorado, you're in the mountains at a ski area...DUH!  Of Course there's a snow storm!

I did something that I shouldn't have allowed, but I was able to plead ignorance, (that time), I let David go home for the holidays and didn't have his paperwork signed correctly.  See, it's not really that EF wants to be the bad guy, but it's IS the state department rule that since the students are here on a student visa, they can leave the country when ever they like, but coming back into the country is the issue.  The DS2019 needs to be updated.  Anyway, lesson learned.  Luckily David got back into the country with no issues.

Since David was in Spain for the Holidays and Mattia was only here for the first semester, the Holidays were set to be rather boring, but I got a surprise.  Mattia decided he would wait to go back to Italy until after the first of the year.  What a very cool and mature thing to do.  As he said, he wanted to spend the time with his friends, but didn't want me to be alone.  Very nice.  Mattia left on his way back to Italy the day before David got back from Spain.

It was hard to say good bye to Mattia, but as he said, "It's OK, I'll see  you in September"  That my friends is another benefit of being involved in this program, but we'll talk about that later.  Big hugs to my Italian Son.

As I said, David returned  from Spain just after Mattia left and we were off and running for the second semester.  My work was extremely busy and David was working on his Spanish school work as well as classes here at Wasson High.  Luckily, I suppose, school here in the US is generally easier than elsewhere.

Time really flew by and then all of a sudden, it was time for our regional meeting in San Antonio.  David & I got a chance to spend some good quality time together and while I was in meetings, David hung out with other students that came along and had a good time there as well.

The rest of the school year went by very quickly.  David finished up the year with flying colors and then it was over... ;(  It was tough to let David head off as well, but again, with reassurances the I would see David in September, & a hug, I let him go.

I learned a tremendous amount from both boys and learned even more about myself.  Grazie & Gracias to Mattia & David for allowing me to learn so much and to become Totally hooked on foreign exchange and being a host Dad!


No comments:

Post a Comment