This article is going to be short and to the point. Okay, I will try, but those of you who know me must be aware I tend to keep putting one word in front of the other until I have written a mile of text.
Let me tell you a story that took place in a small grade school in Geary, Oklahoma. I was in the fifth or sixth grade when we had an exchange student from Switzerland join our class. This girl was as strong as any boy in our class and bold as brass. The thing I remember most was that she taught us to play soccer. As far as I know, none of us had ever heard of that game; the nearest to it was football. Did I forget to mention that she was a natural leader with a forceful personality? Football was forgotten, and we played soccer every recess for the entire time she attended before going home. I can’t go any further without mentioning that every boy in our class, including me, had a crush on the beautiful, blonde-haired, healthy statured girl. She broke a lot of hearts when she went back home.
I was recently looking for a charity to put a bit of excess cash toward. I recently discovered that, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t take money or goods with me when I passed on. The guy with the Uhaul being pulled behind the hearse was an idiot. He should have known the relatives would open it up at the gravesite and pull, grab, and squabble over anything of value. He would leave without the shirt on his back. Therefore, I needed to do a bit of good before I passed, leaving naked as a jaybird and not a penny to take with me.
Other than Veterans’ causes I want to contribute to, I searched for all the charities where most of the money goes to the people who need it. Also, I require that it do something that has a lasting impact. I looked down the whole list, and when I came to the charity with an exchange program, I looked into it. Sure enough, it was the same program that provided us grade school boys with so much excitement and – well, a girl to drool over. While that was also true, the other side to this was the opportunity for us and the exchange student to have exposure to a different culture and country. Soccer was only a small part of that learning process. I found out from reading page after page of write-ups with pros and cons from students who had finished their year of exchange that most gave five stars. Most cons were typical teenage complaints, but the pros told the story of how valuable the experience was for each. Also, most of the exchanges were from more diverse cultures than the one we had when I was in school.
One reason I see the value of this exchange program is my time in the service of being exposed to different countries, cultures, and belief systems. It is the best of my experience in the Navy. I really can’t say enough about how it changed me for the better. It will do the same for the exchange student, the family they stay with, and the school they attend.
Other than people donating, they are always looking for families to sponsor a student. They would live with the sponsoring family and go to a local school. It would enrich any family willing to have one of these kids in your home for a school year. I am linking to the website for anyone interested in this program. It is a 501(c)(3) for tax purposes. If anyone who reads this had an experience with an exchange student, please comment and let us know your experience.
Are you still here? That wasn’t too long, was it?