A New Experience

Hey, there.  Been a while, eh?  Let’s just say that a LOT has changed.  Danielle only stayed with us until Halloween and so we moved up our timeline about moving back east to be closer to home… so we put our house on the market, I quit my job, and we’ve been back in Vermont for a year and a few days.

Of course we wondered if we should host again.  We still talk to Naomi and Tom regularly — Tom was actually going to come see us this summer but was offered an amazing opportunity to teach in China so we encouraged him going (we’ll miss seeing him!).  And while we thought about looking for an organization here (we’re done with EF) we also assessed what we were looking for now that we had the opportunity to make some changes.

Here are were some considerations:

  1. Time: While we would never change anything about our first two hosting experiences 10 1/2 months is a long time.  We’d like to get back to Europe at some point but it’s tough when you have a kid for that long.  And summer can be an awful time to travel.
  2. Money: While you don’t have to spend as much as we do when hosting, we like to travel with our kids.  But we’re down to Kris’ income and what I make… which is nowhere near what I used to make.
  3. Motivation: Kids here for their American year are awesome and fun and usually up for anything.  That said, while helping them out we weren’t sure if it was meeting a certain need in us to help others.

Hosting an exchange student for a semester was an option but still didn’t quite fit.  When I taught in Brooklyn I had students who were Fresh Air kids so I pitched the idea to Kris who, of course, was game.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Fresh Air Fund (now in its 140th year!) is a program for children living in poverty in NYC.  They can join anywhere between ages 6-12 and are sent to live with a family in the country for one week the first year and, if invited back, two weeks every subsequent summer.  A week?!  We can do that.  In spades!

We contacted the fund and set up an interview, etc.  We’re used to the process so it was no big deal for us and the women who came to check out the house were awesome.  We requested a boy and were up for pretty much anything except that our home and vehicles are not handicapped accessible (the Fund is always looking for families equipped for hosting special needs kids if you can help!).  We started talking about the types of things we would want to do with our child and learning about what to expect.

Kris and I have never had anyone under the age of 16 in the home, so that will be interesting.  But we’re excited — especially since we’ll head to the bus stop THIS AFTERNOON to meet our guest for the week, Ryan.

Here are the things we’ve come up with to introduce our city mouse to the country:

  • tubing down the Battenkill River
  • GeoCaching
  • picnicking in some of our gorgeous, local spots
  • swimming (many Fresh Air kids don’t know how to swim when they first arrive!)
  • Eating outdoors on the deck
  • Catching fireflies
  • a trip to the drive-in movie theatre
  • nighttime fires

The idea is to give the child a sense of life outside New York City.  This can be really strange at first!  NYC has a constant hum and bustle and there’s so much light.  And people.  And cars.  Here it gets VERY dark and VERY quiet at night.  It may be the first time Ryan can see lots of stars!  I dowloaded the star map app on the iPad for some pre-bedtime stargazing and storytelling.  And if we are feeling really bold we’ll set up the tent in the backyard one night for a campout (Kris and I still haven’t camped so the idea of heading to the wilderness with an 8-year-old the first time is beyond daunting).

We know very little about our guest — his mom speaks Mandarin so we had a quick talk through an interpreter.  It should be a an adventure.  We’ll head to the bus today armed with a sign, snacks and have a small gift waiting at home and hopefully learn a little about Ryan and what he anticipates for his week in Vermont.

We’ll post pictures and updates as the week goes on and hope you’ll join us on this new and exciting adventure!

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