I woke up a couple of weeks ago with a brilliant idea. We should host a foreign exchange student this school year.
Fortunately, my husband was still too sleepy to object, and within a few minutes, I had signed up for information and had even picked out a student who would be a good fit. “Adela” — fake name used for privacy — is 17 and from Chile. Her hobbies are reading and history. She sounded perfect.
What I didn’t know was that most families plan for more than a few minutes. Most families plan months to a year in advance.
It also didn’t occur to me that most of your neighbors will think you are a little nuts. Fortunately, my neighbor thinks I’m nutty about a lot of things, and she was still gracious enough to give me a glowing referral to be a host family.
My children were really excited when I announced that we were hoping to have a new family member for 10 months.
My son wanted me to practice saying “chill -lay,” not “chili” like what I like to eat on a cold winter day. My oldest daughter was bummed that I waited until she was out of the house to do this. My middle daughter wants to ask a ton of questions. My youngest daughter, who will be living with her, is just excited to not be an only child at home for a while — she’s been missing sharing chores and secrets since the other three kids have left the nest.
Upon asking permission from the school, I realized that I was late to the show. The superintendent was very nice but let me know the school system would have to provide a waiver of acceptance since the deadline was May 1. Whoops, I definitely missed that. Officials granted the waiver. Now onto the next hurdle: home inspection.
Any time you say :inspection” after being in the military, you have at least a little dread. You think of the drill sergeant reaching above the door frame and finding dust! Or taking a Q-tip to a corner in the bathroom and finding grime!
The couple who came for our home inspection were very nice. We were able to hear about the teenagers they’ve hosted over the years. They told us more about guest and host family expectations. We are expected to provide three meals a day, a room with a window, a bed and a door, and we would not receive any compensation. The hosted teenager may even want to call us Mom and Dad.
They didn’t feel above the door frame for dust. My dog did lick the lady’s hand immediately and the dog howled once she was banned from the room — this was a new trick just for company. She will whine occasionally if she’s banned from a room, but she hasn’t howled until our inspectors were present (typical kid behavior). But it must have been minor dings to our living environment because we passed and are anxiously awaiting Adela’s arrival in mid-August.
What we learned was that hosting comes in different flavors. You can host long, like we’ve chosen for the school year. You can host shorter times like just summer or you can host temporary until a more permanent arrangement is found. What I’ve found in life is that one size does not fit all.
Gardening is the same. You may have the time and skill to live on what you grow. You may be like me and only grow what you really like fresh from the ground (someone please help me with all the tomatoes I’ve got right now). Or you may only have space for a few containers and some houseplants. The beauty of it is adjusting to what works for you.
The one constraint we all have is time. I know this is cliché, but once it’s gone, it’s now a memory. I would like to encourage you to think about what experiences you and your family would like to have and set a plan to achieve them.
According to the Google dictionary, volunteer means to freely offer to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task. When we talk about plants, a volunteer is one that just shows up without being planted by you. Imagine with just a few hours each week from many people what amazing things can happen.
The small town I live in has some ladies who dream of a more vibrant and cohesive community. Eight ladies are changing our town little by little. Beauty is coming from ashes and friendships coming from digging in the dirt.
If you don’t know where to start, the Spring Hope Garden Club is always accepting new members. It has many areas to be involved in that you can use your talents and interests in. See us on Facebook at Spring Hope Garden Club (Peggy Leggy is the administrator). Come grow with us!
Another Spring Hope treasure that accepts volunteers of all ages is the Spring Hope Museum. Stop by from 3-5 p.m. on Sundays and see where Spring Hope sprung from. You can find it at 400 W. Main St.
Wherever you are in your life, be sure to find time to share your talents, make fun memories and enjoy what you do.
DeeAnn Rivera is a Spring Hope resident who blogs at VictoryGardenGal.com. Email her at VictoryGardenGal@gmail.com.
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