Thursday, October 14, 2010

{Austria?} Isn't that a continent?

That is what one of my boys {one who will remain un-named for fear of embarrassment and harrassment} said when I told them where our foreign exchange students were coming from this year. Ahh our public education system at work! LOL
So for those who don't know me very well...
Other than being a mom, wife, photographer, scrapbooker, crafter, volunteer extrodinaire...I am also a Program Leader in the summer for a foreign exchange homestay program. Just a mere 28 days of our summer but it seems like a lifetime of memories are created in that short span of time.
Sometimes, we get several countries ~ like in the summer of 2009 ~ we had Spain, Russia, France and Germany. And in our own cottage we had 3 students stay with us from 3 of those countries.
Well this past summer, only 1 country was chosen to come to our little village ~ and that was Austria! And from Austria ~ 11 students PLUS we got 2 bonus students from Slovania {which we found out is a neighboring country to Austria} and 1 chaperone would be coming to stay. Each of the students had host families that they stayed with in our little village and the chaperone {Andrea} stayed with us at our little cottage.
I don't know what it was about these kids...but I poured over each one of their applications ~ I was like that new mommy pregnant for the first time ~ planning out everything perfectly for the arrival of that precious little bundle of joy! It really was similar...I could hardly wait for their arrival ~ I planned trips and outings and all the fun things they would do for the short month they would be here with me. I knew them even before they arrived ~ I knew their names...I knew what they looked like...I knew their interests...where they came from...I was leaving no stone unturned!
So the day of their arrival came...on the bus drive to the airport I could hardly contain myself. As I waited at the gate for them to come up through the customs terminal...I could finally see them! I started calling out their names with eagerness, waving my hands in the air and grabbing each one of them up in a big mama hug! {I even got reprimanded by an airport security guard for stepping over "the line" a few times ~ LOL} I shocked them all {because they told me later}...but a few of them thought who is this crazy nice lady hugging me??? They were shocked and happy to know that I knew their names. It made them feel more comfortable right away.
I took litterally 1000's of pictures of their trip to California...documented everything for them and their families to see back home in Austria & Slovania. I only got a few eye rolls by the end...but they all said that they liked it ~ and it made me so happy to do it for them.
Over the course of the next few weeks...each one of those 13 young people, became like family to us.
At our beach party farewell...they gave me a beautiful charm bracelet ~ one of the charms said "mom". And they made me a beautiful card that I want to share with you what they wrote:
"There are so many things we would like to thank you for but honestly there isn't enough space to write them all down. Since our arrival and throughout the whole time here you've bee a caring mother to us all. You treated us as if we were your own children. Whenever a problem occured you knew exactly how to solve it. You've been working 24/7 to make our experiences unforgettable and genuinely unique. Frankly, there are no words that can express how grateful we are. So all we can say is DANKE! We {Heart} U MOM and we will miss you. Your children from Austria & Slovania p.s. thanks for the pictures and the memories"
I have the card on my desk and I like to read the last line ~ we {heart} U MOM and we will miss you. Your children from Austria & Slovania...and you know what is so awesome??? I get to talk to most all of my Austrian & Slovanian children {some almost daily} more often through social even with the 9 hour difference I can instantly say hi to one of my sweet I did a minute ago before she got ready for school...
I'm so blessed to have {4} terrific and amazing sons...and grateful for the opportunities this life has afforded me to open our cottage to some other pretty amazing young people from around the world...
So if you're interested in what kept me busy for a better part of the summer and away from blogging...check out my personal Facebook page and take a peek at the photo albums {there are plenty to see} and you will get to know 13 + 1 of Austria (and Slovania)'s finest young people.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it fun! I love young people they keep you alive and fun and energetic! I never had them at my house, but I've met several who came to visit Brazil and I taught them Portuguese, they are interested and enjoy almost anything!! I'm glad you had so much fun!