Day 129: Stephan

13 Aug

Today the Medford Food Coop had its Grand Opening. Many people have been waiting for this event for a long time. And I know that the co-op staff has been working like crazy to make this happen.

My son (Coco), and my Rotary exchange student (Stephan) and I volunteered to help with the opening. Stephan and Coco directed parking, while I sat at a desk with Kay (another co-op spouse) helping folks get their co-op member cards. It was a lot of fun – and the time flew by!

It was about 2PM when we finally left the store to go home. We all were really tired but felt that the day had gone well. So many people had come to see the co-op and we received so many compliments about the fact that it was finally a reality.

When we were heading home I glanced in the back seat and saw that Stephan had dozed off. He had gotten up early and had worked about 5 hours in the hot parking lot. I knew that I wanted to give him a pie while he was here visiting – and what better way to say thanks for his help today than with a Chocolate Cream Pie?

We hosted Stephan in our home in the Spring of 2006. He is from Germany and was able to speak four languages. He was always trying to understand the nuances of (my) english. One day he asked if he could eat something that was in the fridge. I answered, “Sure, that’s fine.” And I was stopped cold in my tracks when Stephan asked, “Is it fine as in – Sure, fine go ahead and eat it (all the while sounding angry) or do you mean, “Okay, sure, it is fine” (and really being okay with it). It was so remarkable to me that Stephan had picked up on this subtle difference in the language (oh, and by the way, he did get to eat what he’d asked about).

The Rotary Exchange program has been a huge factor in our lives. Both of our children have gone on exchange (our daughter to Denmark, and our son to the Czech Republic) and we have learned through them that the world is really quite small; that we are all connected.

Last year we planned to visit Coco when he was in the Czech Republic and I contacted Stephan to let him know that we would be in Europe and hoped that we could see him as well. And as I had been hoping to visit Paris (since I was 19 or so) I sort of mentioned that I would like the chance to fit a short trip to France in our itinerary.

And as miracles sometimes do happen, Stephan (and his wonderful family) helped arrange for our family to visit Paris. We stayed in an apartment near his Grandma and shared Easter breakfast with his family. It was absolutely amazing!

We are so very happy to have had the chance to get to know Stephan – and his family – through the Rotary exchange program. Our lives are richer because of this experience – and we are all incredibly grateful.

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