Monday, September 14, 2015

A Reunion With A Czech Exchange Student

The picture  is of me and Ivo Trnka, taken Sunday evening. Ivo stayed in our home the first several days he was in Manhattan, KS as an exchange student from Prague.That was about 3 years ago.  He spent a full school year in Manhattan and did a lot of traveling around the USA during that time. He saw more of our country than many of our citizens do in a lifetime. He went home at Christmas wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat purchased when he visited Dallas. I wondered what his mother and father thought when they met him at the airport in Prague.

After his year here, he went home to Prague to finish school and find his way in the world. With his outgoing personality, I think he has a great future. He's working for an American tour company now. We had the joy of seeing him in Prague in August of 2014. This past week, he and his girlfriend, Karoleena, have been in Manhattan to attend a wedding. The groom was a good friend he made while studying here.

His other Host Family invited all the new Czech exchange students and Host Families to their home for dinner last evening. Young people around the world have one thing in common--they love to eat! And eat we all did, the young and the not-so-young. The table nearly groaned with the many hot and cold dishes it held plus another dessert table. There was as much chatter as there was food!

The highlight of the evening was being able to spend time with Ivo and Karoleena. Always the thoughtful person, he brought gifts for Ken and me and for our two youngest grandchildren. When Ivo and another nice exchange student, named Veronika, stayed in our home that August of 3 years ago, we were also taking care of our two youngest grandchildren for a few days. I was a bit concerned about trying to do both at the same time. Shouldn't have worried as the two college students and the two children, aged 6 and 9, took to each other in a flash. The little ones followed the older students like puppy dogs. And the older kids were so kind and attentive to the younger ones.

Ivo has kept in touch with us and so has Veronika. She is now married to one of Ivo's American friends. Another story.

The emails are great but to be able to sit and talk, face to face, and to give and get a hug is the best. Ivo is a part of my own story in life.

And that is what this post is really about. The wonderful stories that are right in front of us all the time. It might be the boy who bags your groceries every time you shop. Or the young woman who does your manicure. Or the mechanic who fixes your car. Or the young man who sits near you every Sunday in church. They all have a story and they are all a part of your own story.

Look around you the next few days. Look at the people you meet in your everyday journey as ones who could be a subject for a story you might write. Engage these people in casual conversation and you'd be surprised what you learn about them.

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