An On-going Exchange

November 19, 2010

The highlight of our recent trip to Spain was a very special re-union and a good ad campaign for the positive benefits of cultural exchange programs. While in high school Adam was an exchange student in Spain. At the end of his summer program, he met a Spanish boy on the plane who was preparing to start his exchange experience in the States. They started chatting and soon realized that Nando was actually going to be attending Adam's high school and living in is small California town. They quickly became friends, classmates, and soccer team mates. After his year in California, Nando returned to Spain and Adam visited Nando and his family during the following spring break. And then eighteen years passed. 

As we were planning our trip Adam pulled out a small business card he had kept all of those years. It had Nando's picture, his full name, and the name of the Spanish rotary club that sponsored his exchange year in the States, but there wasn't any contact information. Adam quickly jumped on the internet and the phone until he was able to track down some contact information. A few days later Nando and Adam had their first phone conversation in eighteen years. There were tears, laughter, and a very generous invitation to have us stay with their family during our time in Madrid. And that is just what we did. 

The tears, the laughter, the hugs, and the hospitality continued to overwhelm us once we arrived in Spain. Nando is now married to a wonderful woman, Theresa and they have a delightful six year old son, Pablo. His parents and brother also quickly made us feel right at home with amazing nightly dinners, lively viewings of Spanish soccer games, and even some flamenco dancing in the living room!  It turns out that Nando is now the Vice-Mayor of his hometown. He proudly showed us around the town and the various projects he has been a part of during his term. He took us on fabulous day trips to the beautiful towns on Segovia and El Escorial. He arranged for Noah to play in Pablo's soccer game on Saturday morning with all of the other six and seven year old boys in town and presented Noah with a special Spanish soccer ball. Theresa surprised Camille with her very own flamenco dress and taught us all a few moves. Despite, the language barrier, Pablo made our kids feel right at home. Soccer, swords, and silly faces can obviously overcome any barriers! As we watched our children play together, we started to speculate about what might happen ten years from now...perhaps another generation of exchange between our Spanish and American families, wouldn't that be wonderful?
threedogstudio said...

A delightful story to start my day! Thanks. Karol

likeschocolate said...

How fabulous! I went on an exchange to South Africa and can't wait to show my family some day where I lived. Happy Thanksgiving!

Mom2Isabel said...

Oh my!
When I saw the picture I knew you were at the Aqueduct in Segovia. I love that city! The winding streets, the little cafes tucked away in alleys. Isn't El Escorial amazing???

Love the story of your reunion and the accompanying pictures.

[Off topic: Can you send your mailing address (again) to my email? I have something for you guys.]

Thought of you this whole week during our commute, as Isabel had rediscovered the CD mix from Mei Mei's 22nd Birthday party. Each morning (and afternoon) is filled with Town-Oh, All Around the LKtichen, M-O-M-M-Y, and Guantanamera.

: )
Miss you!

affectioknit said...

That is so sweet! We hosted an exchange student when I was in high school and then I visited her family once after high school...I'd love to see her again...

Mom2Isabel said...

Oops!
Make that Mei Mei's 2nd birthday.

I know that time flies by fast but THAT is ridiculous. : )

wandering educators said...

i love this - the benefits of international exchange are so many - and lifelong. love the photos!

Mama said...

What a great story! I was an exchange student from Brazil to the US when I was in high school. Years later I moved to the US again and here I stayed. I am still very close to my "host families" and they really are part of my family now. It is a bond that will always last. I am still in contact with several friends from that high school and recently found on FB another exchange student from Italy that was in the US the same time I was. Even though years have passed, we chat like we have seen each other last week. Great memories, great times!

Tisra said...

I'm a sap! I had tears thinking of how completely beautiful cross-cultural friendships can be. Just gorgeous!

Arrows Sent Forth said...

That is so amazing!

We spent three weeks in Spain a few summers ago and the highlight of our trip was a day spent in Segovia. Beautiful, isn't it?

Dana said...

what a great story. . . it brought tears to my eyes this morning.
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Jeannette said...

That is fabulous.

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