First of all, I want to apologize to my fellow commenters here at Fellowship of the Minds. For the last month or so I have not been pulling my weight due to illness and work obligations and finally for the last two weeks due to one of God’s Blessings.
A Rewarding 21 Year Relationship!
Her name is Tatjana, she is from Germany, she was our foreign exchange student in 1990-1991 in Clovis, New Mexico. I was in the Air Force at the time, another military family had actually applied to host a foreign exchange student, but when they got offered an assignment they contacted the coordinator for host families and gave them our name. I was in Virginia at the time picking up our car from the port after having it shipped from England. Kathie, my wife called me and asked me if I wanted to host a foreign exchange student, I was surprised and to tell you the truth, I didn’t know what to think and hadn’t even considered it in my wildest dreams.
Kathie and I had tried to have children in the years leading up to this time but due to anatomical abnormalities she miscarried seven times even with taking several precautions. We were considering fostering or adoption at the time but had not made up our minds yet when this opportunity came along.
We decided to become a host family, it wasn’t an easy decision. We got an information packet about Tatjana along with some pictures. She was seventeen at the time, kind of shy and so were we in a way.
The day she arrived it was very awkward for all of us, she spoke very good english, but we did not speak any German and there were some words that were hard for her at first.
Over that school year we went through many changes. She was a dedicated student, she became very fluent in english as well as taking classes in Spanish and French and made good grades in both. She even worked on the High School yearbook staff. We had a golden retriever at the time, Tatjana and ‘Sally’ became inseparable and she would always lovingly greet her after school and lay on her bed as she did homework.
During the Christmas holidays we went to L.A. to visit family, we took her to Disneyland for a day and also took her shopping on Melrose Drive. All in all we had a great time.
When we got back home the three of us became very close, and over the next six months we became more like a family. She left to return home in June 1991 and at the airport, this big burly Air Force staff sergeant wept like a baby. Since we were unable to have children she became like a daughter to us and she referred to us as her American parents.
Since then she has matured into a beautiful young woman, is fluent in several languages and works as a flight attendant. Every few years she comes back to visit us, she loves spending time in the states and we love spending time with her. We have often planned to visit her but but for one reason or another have never been able to, and she understands.
This last visit was very special, she was here over Thanksgiving for almost two weeks. Her visit came at a time when we were still recovering from the death of my mother and her presence filled a void in our hearts and helped us to heal. We did a lot of traveling, visiting family and friends and just spending time together.
Over the years the love we have for her and her for us has grown exponentially to the point where we ARE a family.
The reason I wrote this story is a tribute to the wonderful 21 year relationship that we have had with Tatjana and to let everyone know how rewarding it can be to host a foreign exchange student. We know that sometimes there are pitfalls and that hosting a student does not always result in long term relationships, but ours did and we will always be thankful to God for bringing her into our lives and hearts
Tom in NC