This weekend we welcomed our latest Rotary exchange student into our family. Eighteen year-old Marine is from Belgium, and I can’t pronounce her name right (that darn French r), but she says I’m in the ballpark.
We’ve shown Marine the basement bedroom we’ve tried to make as comfy as possible, and introduced her to the dog and to Colin’s various and assorted fish and flora. She hasn’t asked about bus routes back to her previous host family just yet, which I’m going to take as a promising sign.
In fact, when Colin was introducing Marine to his lizard, Speedy (which at 10 has lived way longer than the pet store told me when we bought her for the kids back when I didn’t realize handling lizards is a good way to contract salmonella, which is how Speedy has since led a life of sad confinement, making me feel guilty and horrible, but that’s another story), Marine asked about her diet, so Colin revealed the stash of mealworms we keep in the refrigerator.
This is, of course, the same refrigerator in which we keep the people food, which prompted me to assure Marine that the worms are kept separate from the people food and neither is in any danger of coming into contact with the other.
In Danish, the phrase “Good morning, how did you sleep,” looks like this:
God morgen, hvordan har du sover?
It sounds like:
As in any language, in Danish, phonetics often have little to do with how words look on paper. While this particular phrase (which Jack needs to learn, along with a short introduction speech by the end of the month), may not be too difficult, there are sounds in that language that don’t even exist in English. Not to mention letters, like: æ, ø, and å.
But when I reminded him last week about putting together his speech, he was unconcerned. He said he’d just use the handy, new Danish dictionary he got for Christmas, and whip out a few phrases.
Our wedding anniversary was Sunday, and Mike and I slept in separate rooms.
It wasn’t like that. He did spend the better part of an hour trying to make a fire for me in a teensy stove, but there wasn’t much for kindling and the wood may have been a little wet. The room would be warm enough anyway once all the girls returned to the cabin.
When I looked up this place online I read about a lodge that sleeps 50 on the shores of Alturas Lake with a view of the Sawtooth Mountains. There would be en-suite bathrooms, linens and towels and hand stitched quilts and a staff to serve meals in a common dining area.
It sounded rather swanky for a labor-day weekend orientation for twenty or so Rotary foreign exchange students, but maybe the intent was to start their year off with a bang.
In retrospect the fact that I thought we were staying in that lodge is a little funny.
A little while ago, Mike and I spent the morning with a group of emotional teenagers.
… Sorry, that’s redundant. I meant “more emotional than usual, even given the teen thing.”
We were chaperoning a group of kids on year-long exchanges from all corners of the globe. On a regular basis during the year, these kids would leave their various host homes scattered across Idaho to gather in a central location. They bonded, comparing notes on their new lives in mostly rural places they may previously believed were only contrived as a setting for Napoleon Dynamite.
Another teenager came to live with us this week. Given the stories you hear from me about the one we already have, you might think I’m self-medicating. Hold off on the intervention, we know what we’re getting into.
And not second-hand either. When we told people we were going to host our first foreign exchange student, we were regaled with horror stories, similar to what happens when someone finds out you’re pregnant, and feels compelled to share the most hair-raising details from their own labor and delivery.
But we’ve yet to experience any horror, hosting through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, and the student who just moved in is our fourth.