A rewarding experience

PABassPlayer

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So about 6 weeks ago, my wife and daughter notified me that in 3 weeks we would have a foreign exchange student from Germany staying with us for 3 weeks...I was not happy!!!!

The fact that we were in the middle of a complete bathroom gut/remodel and our spare bedroom has been my office/jam room/catch all room for the past 11 years, we didn't even own a bed to put in there!!!!

Well, the bathroom had been on hiatus (gutted is where it was) since we ran out of funds last fall and we were waiting for the tax return to resume work. At this time we had not even filed yet, but with the electronic filing we were confident to have it within a week, thus leaving me 2 weeks to install new plumbing, build a wall, install a pocket door, a new tub and enclosure, all new recessed lights, exhaust fan and all new electrical. Not to mention drywall, tape, spackle, sand and paint. All the while, emptying out the jam room to carpet, paint and get a dresser, bed, night stand etc. Well, all of my equipment had to go to the garage and that wasn't happening until it was insulated, sheet rocked and 2 new heat/ac ducts were cut in...mind you...this is all to be done in 2 weeks.

During the 2 weeks I took off 2 full days of work and 2 half days and cashed in every favor I have with friends that are plumbers, electricians, carpenters and general contractors. I love my friends and they were all absolutely awesome putting in 8-9 hour days at here jobs and each spending 2-4 hours a night at my house helping me out. While there were a few road blocks and more than a few differences of opinion with the wife on some of the design ideas, we had the bedroom completely ready, the bathroom was sanded and white primer. Everything else was done (window/door trim, all electrical, caulking) except the tile for the floor. I had left over carper from the bedroom, so I just installed that temporarily...this was literally done about 3 hours before Janka Kluge arrived from Germany.

Without going into a day to day detail, this pretty little 15 year old extremely shy girl has taken up residence in our home and in her timid voice, asked if she could have a glass of water, I explained that she is there for 3 weeks and she doesn't have to ask for anything, later that evening she asked if she could take a shower and "can I go to sleep now". She was sweet and so thankful for everything. We wanted to make sure she got the most of her US experience and took her to NYC, Phila, Washington DC, The Jersey Shore (she saw the hurricane devistation on the news in Germany) and was amazed to see the Seaside roller coaster in the ocean.

We knew she was a vegitarian before she came and we planned dinners for her, but found out after a few days that she would live on pancakes. Apparently, German pancakes are like crepes, very thin and not very filling. The first sunday she was there I got up and made big thick fluffy pancakes with chocolate chips in them...she was in love with them. She went to school with my daughter and fit in immediatly, while 20 other of her German peers were also there, she seemed to be everyones favorite. She was the littlest and youngest of all of the visitors.

We brought her to the school yesterday to catch the bus with the other Germans to head home, and if you told me 5 weeks ago I would tear up when she left, I would have said no effing way!!!! But I did, she was a great cultural experience for all of us. While my daughter speaks fluent German and visited her town of Oldenberg 2 years ago, I never saw it necessary to reciprocate and host. Now my daughter will be leaving for college and out of high school and we won't have the opportunity to host again, hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

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Janka on the right, my daughter on the left
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Went to Jr Prom
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New Hope PA
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Jersey Shore
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Sports Night makeup
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Trip to DC with my wifes cousin
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Going Home
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Before she got on the bus, she said we could adopt her.
Last Goodbye...
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Byron999

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That is really cool and says quite a lot about ya to make this all happen with that remodel challenge. :dude:
 

Hack

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She looks just like the German version of you.
 

Gin&Pentatonic

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What a noble thing to do! Good job documenting it, too.

I can tell it was a wonderful experience for both Janka and your family.
 

pinefd

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...if you told me 5 weeks ago I would tear up when she left, I would have said no effing way!!!! But I did...

Heck, you practically had me tearing up by the end of your post! Well done, sir! :applause: You sound like "good people".


Frank
 

barricwiley

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Great post Sir and thank you for putting it up for us.
So nice that everything turned out far better than ever expected.
 

JeffBlue

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You make the rest of us Americans proud. You are a decent sort and now a proponent of US/German relations. Excellent my friend.
 

12watt

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That's a really nice story, my parents took in foreign students for a while, they had some lovely kids and young adults staying with them at various times. One Japanese girl stayed a year and really became part of the family.
 

Leendrix

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This is a great thread. Very touching! :)

You had great initiative remodeling, and it looks like you guys had a great time together! :thumb:
 

Ed B

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I wouldn't have been happy either.

This is something you'll never forget. The memories will bring a smile to your face for the rest of your life. It's a beautiful thing.
 

PABassPlayer

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Sorry, but I have to put up a few more pics, and one last little story.

I found a few days in to the visit that when they teach English in Germany (they start in 3rd grade generally) they can't really teach "inflection", therefore they don't really get sarcasm. In my house, sarcasm is used as much as milk and bread, so when she looked puzzeled, I would ask if she understood, and would explain the sarcastic humor of the situation.

Fast forward about 5-6 days after a few "lessons" on sarcasm, my wife was not going to be home from work until about 3:00 and my daughter had to leave for work at about 2:45. So I was explaining to her that she would be alone in the house for about 15 minutes. I wasn't sure if she was uncomfortable about it, so I reassured her a few times that it would be fine. She stopped me mid sentence and said, (use your best German accent when you read this) "I will be fine, I won't burn your house down". I just stared at her for a second, and she followed up with, "how is my sarcasm, is it good"?
I cracked the f%*k up!!! She started laughing too...I gave her a hug and said "You'll be fine".

St Pattys Parade
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After a long chilly walk in Lahaska PA
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In DC wiith Abe Lincoln (Vampire Slayer)
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Standing at the other edge of the big pond....
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PABassPlayer

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Oh and it's Willkommen.

We were asked to use English in the house, one of the reasons they are here is to converse and communicate in English.

Although my daughter and her would speak German if they didn't want me or my wife to know what they were saying. Janka pretty much told me everything, she said, "It is usually silly stuff about boys".
 

Byron999

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We hosted two young Japanese ladies about 14 years ago. They stayed with us for two weeks. We really only spent a few evenings together as they had a very full itinerary and both my wife and I were at work during the day. My wife received a letter last year from one of the girls, now all grown with two children. Very sweet of her.
 

cherryles

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We had a young French lady stay with us for a couple of weeks some years ago as part of the student exchange programme, she had very good English, my sister then went to France the year after for two weeks, sadly this scheme is no longer in operation, now it's just school trips to France but i don't think they learn as much as been "landed" there in a foreign country and having no choice but to pick up the language asap or go hungry hahah well you know what i mean.

How safe is it though sending your child off to a foreign country nowadays to parents and a family that you have never met nor know anything about?
 

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