Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Au revoir

Less than three weeks ago, a group of Ripon families invited 27 French students into their homes.
Even though it seems like they just got here, they left Tuesday morning. I have rarely had an experience where time went by that fast.

You've read about the activities they've done, including an unscheduled activity Sunday night — a tour of our basement bathroom/tornado shelter during a tornado warning. (The National Weather Service confirmed two tornadoes in Kingston and Markesan, which were headed in this direction Sunday night.)
One thing I can report is that apparently the entire candy supply of Ripon as of Monday night left for Paris Tuesday. Moritz stuffed his suitcase full of Nerds and Pop Tarts, in exchange for the French chocolate he presented his host parents.

Moritz's last day in Ripon started with breakfast — a really large breakfast ...

... followed by a going-away ceremony at Murray Park/Quest Elementary School:

And then they departed for Mitchell Field in Milwaukee with a police (and K-9 dog) escort.

Based on interviewing the kids Sunday for the Ripon Channel Report, the baseball game was high on the popularity list. They went to things they perhaps didn't think they were going to — in several students' cases, the Cub Scout Pack 3735 year-ending carnival — but the kids all proved their adaptability by hanging around with each other while their host families engaged in activities more age-appropriate, perhaps, for those younger than the French students.

I can't personally attest to this since I didn't do any foreign-exchange activities as a student, but I've never heard anyone who did regret the experience. And truth be told, hosting Moritz for nearly three weeks wasn't an imposition at all; that's how well he fit in.

There were genuine tears among the students and a few of the host parents Tuesday morning. There certainly are ways to keep in touch — the Internet, Skype, cellphones, etc. — but one reality of life is that you never really know what the future will hold. I think we'd all like to keep in touch. Whether host families and their guests actually will be able to keep in touch remains to be seen. But I think it's unlikely anyone involved will forget the French Adventure.

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