I’m sorry, I know I have not written a lot about our experience with Anton, our German Exchange Student. There have been a lot of things I would love to have written about but I want to be respectful of his privacy and because we are bound by a contract. And, I don’t want to say anything that could get me in trouble! And, his Mom has Facebook. <Ha-Ha>
First, let me just say that I do not know how we are going to be able to say goodbye in a few short Months. It is going to be messy. And wet. I tear up when I think about it. I asked his Mom if we could keep him but she said “no”. Of course I understand, I thought maybe after being away from him for a while maybe she decided she didn’t like him anymore. Ha. Not possible. Everyone likes Anton. There is not much to not like (except maybe the grocery bill that comes with him but I guess that is normal with teenage boys (Lord help me)).
Anton, my dear, we love you. Thank you for all that you have taught us and thank you for allowing us the opportunity to teach you (if you can think of something that you didn’t already know…). We have really enjoyed seeing your dreams realized here in America. We are so proud of how hard you have worked in School and the effort you have put in to be a part of our family. As we have put up with your flaws and annoyances (haha), thank you for also putting up with ours. Our lives were very different when we first met but you quickly and easily became a part of our family. Can’t wait to experience more things with you these last four months (or years in case your Mom changes her mind…)!
As I expected this opportunity has opened my eyes to the world and I am so grateful for it. But, not only has it opened my eyes in a positive way, it has opened my eyes to the yucky stuff too. For example: I really enjoy my “comfort” (like, “No I can’t drive you to CrossFit, I’m busy doing nothing!” (this is an exaggerated statement, just giving you an idea of a possible thought). Also, I have learned that I really care about what others think of me. I used to confess that I really didn’t care what people thought of me but very quickly in Anton’s stay I realized how much I really wanted approval from others. Of course you want people to like you and think you are great (especially a stranger coming to live with you) but I was constantly thinking “I wonder what Anton thinks about this” or “what is Anton going to think about…” Normal right? it is normal except that this thought process was making me anxious and I began to base my worth and achievement on what this person thought about me and my family. The problem was that I was caring more about what this teenage boy was thinking about my skills or my habits or my attitude more than I was think about what God thought about them. He’s really the only one who can judge me and the only one who’s opinion really matters. His is the only standard I want to measure myself to.
Most of us already know how terrible our Food Industry is. If you don’t know, it is TERRIBLE! Do your research. Having someone here from Europe has made me even more aware of how terrible it is and why American’s in general are overweight and so unhealthy. Sure, it is convenient to have 100 Fast Food options within a 10 mile radius but is it really necessary? Sure, prepackaged food is convenient but is it worth the health risks? And, if something is ILLEAGAL to eat in Europe because of the ingredients, why is it okay for us to eat in the U.S.? IT IS NOT!
We are actually pretty healthy eaters so fortunately this was not a big “light bulb” moment for us, but it is sad that people aren’t properly educated on nutrition and just blindly eat whatever is available without realizing what they are doing. And just so you don’t think I am a hypocrite, I am not a self proclaimed Health Nut- I LOVE sugar and I am addicted. I also have prepackaged Goldfish in my closet. However, I am educated and though choose to eat unhealthy sometimes, it is an educated decision. ;0P
But for real, I love hate convenient American food. Moderation people.
After learning so much about other countries, I really want to travel the world. Ugh. This really puts a damper on my future plans. My dream of moving to a nice farm house has gone down the drain. All I want now is to stay right where I am in Parkville so that I can use all of my money to travel the world. And well, first someone has to figure out a new way to travel that doesn’t include flying over large bodies of water. Or floating over large bodies of water…
See what happens when I don’t write for a while? I have an explosion of thoughts all over the computer full unorganized statements and topics.
It is the time of year where we have to make the decision whether or not we will again be Hosting an Exchange Student. Though I CAN NOT imagine sharing this experience with anyone other than Anton, after prayerfully considering we feel that it is something that we will be doing again. I’m in a very weird place. I know that this is what we should do, give another student the opportunity to live out their dream as an American Student in an American Family where we can teach them and love them and learn from them- i’m excited about it. Having to pick another student while our student is still with us is very uncomfortable, and sad. How can I imagine starting a life with another child while the one we have now is still with us, and isn’t finished his life here, and we aren’t finished living life with him yet? We have to pick someone who we think best fits our family, and if we don’t do it now all of the kids will be gone, but I don’t want to, but I do. Anton fits our family. It’s hard, and sad. At the same time, how exciting to learn about someone new from somewhere new?
Lucy said it best when she said: “Can’t Anton just come back for another year”?
Maybe one day I will write about all of the challenges, and specific stories and exciting moments. All of it has been amazing, even the hard stuff. This world, this life, it is so much bigger and more beautiful than you/we can imagine.
You should totally Host an Exchange Student. It’s amazing and challenging and enlightening. Totally rewarding. And challenging. Really amazing.