In the past few days our organization's first group of students have arrived around the U.S. into the waiting arms of excited host families. Seeing all of the student arrival posts has made me incredibly happy ... and very sad. The districts in our own region have pretty universally opted to not accept exchange students for a second year, so we are not only not hosting this year, but were unable as local coordinators to even place any students.
Facing a second year with no exchange students in our community is harder than I expected it would be. The excitement of sharing our America with young people who will bring their understanding of it back home has been part of the cycle of the seasons for me for decades now. Its absence is akin to the shock and pain one might feel on finding a tooth missing.
However, we are not without students in our lives. The kids I've hosted in the past, and the ones we were supposed to host this past year or this coming school year, are in communication through Zoom calls and emails, chats, and social media. Their arrivals and departures are part of our family history, and their photos fill a wall on our stairs.
I know our family is not alone in being cut off and adrift this year. I know, too, that the joy we see in the faces of students and families in these arrival photos will return to our lives, as well. Exchange is not just something we do -- it is a part of our souls, and seeing the laughter and tears and learning and sharing of the families welcoming their students is a balm to those bruised souls.
Thank you all who are hosting or placing students for keeping the dream going, and thank you for carrying us along with you.
About Lars Hedbor
Lars D. H. Hedbor is an amateur historian, home brewer, astronomer, fiddler, linguist, and baker. His fascination with the central question of how the populace of the American Colonies made the transition from being subjects of the Crown to citizens of the Republic drives him to tell the stories of those people, in the pages of his Tales From a Revolution novels. Hedbor lives in Beaverton, Oregon, with his wife, Jennifer Mendenhall. Lars and Jenn are exchange student coordinators for EF High School Exchange Year.