Why we hosted an exchange student (teacher) in a time of chaos

For those that know us personally, you know that the past year or so has been one of chaos for us.  I’ve been getting lots of requests for fall photos, senior pictures, or expecting parents.  We are finally in our new location, and we’ve already started to take clients again.  Last week Adam filmed a show at Eastwood Baptist Church, and I’ve got photo shoots lined up for the next several months.

In case you were wondering what we’ve been up to over the past year or so:

  • Adam left his job of eight years as Manager of Videography & Media Production at Fruit of the Loom to explore an amazing opportunity in Nashville, Tennessee with Caterpillar Financial in their Media group. He commutes daily.
  • Elizabeth moved our man-to-man defense to zone. #basketballreference
  • Melissa left her job of 12 years at Fruit of the Loom for an opportunity to work from home as a consultant.
  • We MOVED despite never listing our house for sale (another story entirely) into an older home in need a significant renovations. (Our bathroom had carpet in it until last week.  Ewww)
  • We’ve only been in our new location for 4 months and have remodelled or renovated three bathrooms, 1 of the bedrooms, living room, dining room, and kitchen.  There’s more to go, but we’re done for at least a year (we think).
  • The move meant that Ben had to change schools and Alex has joined the school system as a kindergartner this year!

And these are just the NEW things! We will forgo listing all of the church, athletic and volunteer things going on. The moral of this story is that we have a very good reason for taking the summer a bit slower than usual when it comes to Choice Media Productions.

So with all this going on, why would we take on hosting an exchange student teacher? Because we were asked.  Because sometimes He asks you to do something, and you aren’t quite sure if you can handle it, but you know you need to.  Because this country is in a time of political chaos, and our guest needed a home where she could feel welcomed and safe.  And while I went into this experience with a mentality of service, we have gained far more than we have given.

Meet Lea:

 

Lea is studying to become a teacher in Germany where she will teach English and German.  The school she teaches at in Germany has a partner relationship with a local high school where I know the German teacher.  This teacher was looking for a host family for Lea, and the rest of the details fell quickly into place.  You can imagine the mornings are a bit hectic as I get to drive four people to three different locations all over town, but those car conversations have been so sweet.

While she has only been here a short time, I have loved watching my children play with her and learn about her culture.  They have, of course, enjoyed the German chocolates and candies she brought with her.  They also enjoyed making her a Build-a-Bear to welcome her to the United States – complete with obnoxious screaming “Welcome to the United States!” sound.  They have learned that Siri is pronounced Ziri when Lea talks to her phone, and all three kids have sent Snapchat videos to Lea’s mom and her 92-year-old German grandmother.  Yesterday Alex asked if we could go visit her in Germany and have a sleepover.  If I start a budget for that now, we might be able to afford it by the time they graduate.

In just a few short weeks we have been to Chaney’s Dairy Barn, swimming at the hotel when my inlaws visited, touring the WKU campus to see a recruitment preview, we visited the Louisville zoo, she saw the solar eclipse and attended an eclipse party, she went shopping at our local mall and Opry Mills, she’s taken a night tour of Nashville and yesterday we went to a trampoline park.  She’s been to church with us (we share the same faith – this was not planned but worked out nicely) and visited another church as well.

 

And yet, as someone who has lived abroad, I can tell you that these are not the things she will remember and share.  She will share the cultural differences – how do we parent differently, how do we sit on furniture, where do we eat, what does that grocery store look like, and how our church service differs from her own.  Earlier this week she went to a pre-orientation at the university to talk to American students going to Germany later this year.  They discussed cultural differences and she said (with a bit of surprise in her voice, I think) that we are “normal.”

My first thought was how well we fooled her if she thinks we are normal.  And my second thought was that this – normalcy, exposing ourselves and our children to other cultures and people different from us – this is how we battle the hate that seems to be present at every corner lately.  So when the opportunity to add more chaos comes knocking at your door in the form of a German exchange student teacher looking for a host family, take it.  You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

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