Monday, August 17, 2009

Students From Across The Sea

To digress a bit from my writing life into the personal, I’d like to tell you about two new students at Kansas State University. Adela and Katarina are Exchnage students from Czech Tech University in Prague. Ken and I will be their American Host family for the time they spend at Kansas State.

Last Wednesday, we met their flights in Kansas City. They came in about forty minutes apart, both having been on three planes and airport waits that took many hours. Any fatigue vanished as they saw us holding a sign with their name on it, and each came immediately with a big smile and a hand stretched out to greet us.

We spent the next few days squiring them around the campus and helping them learn about our community. “Where is Walmart?” they wanted to know. So, I gave them a tour of both Walmart and Target, the mall, a brand new grocery store, Radio Shack and the campus. They purchased sim cards for their cellphones, and Adela found out that her company at home had blocked her from having any other card in her phone. So, a new phone had to be bought, too. Radio Shack provided an American plug to use with their European appliances which made them both happy.

We spent hours talking and getting to know one another. They sailed through jet lag and made us envious. Youth handles many things better than senior citizens, even though I hate to admit it.

Friday evening, we invited another American Host family and their two Czech students tp join us. It turned out to be a festive occasion with many stories from both the Americans and the Czechs as we shared a meal together and finished with a small glass of a tasty Czech liqueur called Becherovka.

Saturday, they met several other exchange students for a swim and then later in the evening, a group of them went to Aggieville, the shopping-restaurant-bar area near campus to see what it had to offer. They were home early but felt better about knowing what kind of entertainment it promised for another time.

Like other Czech students we’ve hosted, Adela and Katarina were friendly, helpful and considerate house guests--truly a pleasure to have in our home. Sunday afternoon we helped them move into a dorm on campus. It brought back memories of when our own children did the same their first year of college. I hugged each girl and said, “I think I’m suppose to say ‘Study hard’ now” And Ken added “And behave yourself.” It made them laugh as we left them on their own. Part of them probably welcomed the independence but maybe another part felt a bit lonely so very far from home. We hope we helped make the transition a little easier.

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