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Published: August 8th 2007
Exchange Student/Daughter Reunion - Miami, Florida,
We thought we’d use this blog forum to share a summary and photos of our dear foreign daughters with you. As most of you know, we had 5 exchange students live with us in Alaska. Our first was Victoria Sahade (Argentina)
, who was a Rotary Exchange Student in 1987-88. We say she paved the way for the other four because she was such an exemplary student/roommate. The other four were with us from 1990 - 1992.
While traveling in South America in 1988 - 1989 we first met Jaqueline in Guatemala
where we were staying for 3 months to learn Spanish. We were traveling together on a bus - for those of you who know Guatemala, you know that they often sit 3 adults to what would be a two-person seat for us. In this particular case Jaqueline and I were literally cheek-to-cheek for a long bus ride. Jackie’s English was good (oh, so much better than my Spanish) and we struck up a conversation, and unbeknownst to me at the time, a life-long friendship - at the end of our South American travels we asked her if she wanted
Victoria (Argentina) 1987 - THEN
This was Vicky when she came to us in Alaska in 1987
to come to live with us in Alaska for a year and improve her English. Mind you, this didn’t take place in one bus ride, but the story is long and I’m just giving you the highlights.
Next we met Camila
and several of her cousins in a museum in Belen, Brazil
. This gaggle of kids surrounded me and asked if they could practice their English. Bernard promptly got interested in a display many rooms away, but after an hour of so of enjoying these young Brazilians so much, I convinced Bernard to take us for ice cream. Well, he fell for them instantly. At the end we exchanged addresses - yeah, sure, we’ll write - and thought that would be the end of it. But the next mail package we had forwarded to us contained a letter from Camila, and for the next year we corresponded. After inviting Jaqueline to come for a year, and since she and Camie wouldn’t have a common language except English, we decided to invite her too.
In Argentina we, naturally, visited Vicky and met her big, wonderful family, which included, most importantly, her twin sister, Marcela. Marcela
was studying English Translation
1990 Camie (Brazil) - THEN
Camila arrived in Alaska in August 1990 and stayed for two years
at a university in Cordoba
. As part of that course there was a requirement that she spend a specific amount of time in an English speaking country to perfect her language skills before graduating. Marcela had lined up a job as an au pair in Connecticut. When she applied for her visa she didn’t realize that one couldn’t just come to the USA and work as an au pair without a specific work visa, so she applied for a tourist visa. When asked what she was going to be doing in the US for a year, she innocently told them she was going to work as an au pair. Well, that didn’t fly and she was turned down, which devastated her. This didn’t happen until we were back in the states, and by this time we had a houseful of girls and thought, well, why not add another lovely young lady to Bernard’s harem?
And since we were going to extend our hosting of students and have Marcela for a year, why not invite Bernie’s Polish cousin Marysia
, the actress, who wanted to improve her English? Actually we knew by then that Camie was going to be with us
another year. Her family had some economic problems at that time (which fortunately reversed themselves in due time) and if she went home she wasn’t going to be able to finish university*, so we invited her for another year.
The summer between 1991 - 92 we had four girls with us (Camie, Jackie, Marcela & Marysia) because Jacqueline’s time was ending and Marysia’s just beginning, so we had overlap. We spent the summer seeing Alaska - camping mostly - and they all remember that summer as “the best ever!”
Since then we have had reunions in Mexico (1994), Arizona (1999) and now Florida (2007), and we’ve seen all the girls in other places as well. Marcela met us at Camila’s home in Brazil in 1997; Marcela visited us in Arizona in 1999; Camila came to Marcela’s wedding in Argentina in 2002; we met Jackie and boyfriend Nery
in Costa Rica (1998), and she came to visit us in the Netherlands (2002); we have visited Marysia in Poland many times and she visited us in the Netherlands (2002); Vicky (and her mother, Rosa) visited us in Ecuador (1996) and spent Christmas on Malta (2003) with us, and she and
Marcela came to Germany. But, and this is important, this reunion was the FIRST time EVER they were all together in one place.
Bernie’s cousin Frank Woods and wife Dottie
have a timeshare and were able to get us two condos in Ft. Lauderdale at an amazing resort - thank you so much Frank & Dottie!!! - for the week after Easter (April 14 - 21, 2007). We choose Florida because Marcela and husband Tim live in Miami now, and of course it is an international gateway, particularly from Latin America. So we all converged there. Marcela and Tim were our co-coordinators (?) and actually did most of the work - particularly the driving to and from the airport. That worked out well actually as everybody’s flight was on time - both ways.
Marysia’s boyfriend (of over 10 years), Maciek
, said in a most amused way, here we are in an incredible place and all these girls want to do is sit around and chat! And that is indeed what they wanted to do - catch up on everybody’s lives: Camila
married in 2000 and has 3 children: Beatriz, Gui and Felipe. Her husband, Nielsen
, works for
1990 Jaqueline (Guatemala) THEN
Jackie didn't arrive in Alaska until September 1990 as she had trouble with her visa
an electronics company. Camie is co-founder of a non-profit organization that does work in environmental areas - USAID and the Netherlands are two of her most prominent partners. She uses her English almost daily. Jackie
works for an international company in marketing - she supervises a sales team and also uses her English extensively. Marcela and Tim
were married in D.C. and Argentina (2002) and live in Miami now where Marcela continues to work as an English Translator for an e-publisher and Tim is a flight instructor at a university there. Marysia
is still working as an actress, but less and less lately as her singing career has taken off. She has two CDs out in Poland and won their equivalent of the Grammy award last year. Victoria
is a masseuse and works in Ibiza, Spain half the year and spends the other half in Argentina taking continuing-education courses, and working at whatever she can to make extra money. She uses her English in Ibiza as most of the tourists are from Germany, the Netherlands, etc., and English is the common international language (she speaks French too).
We had such a great time at the
reunion. Bernard and I flew to Ireland right afterwards and we’ll be doing a travel blog on that soon. But being together with all those fabulous young ladies and several of their life partners was just so special. Every time we see those wonderful, beautiful, kind and generous young ladies we realize that they have added so much to our lives. People say sometimes, how did you know they were such amazing human beings? Who knows, intuition, gut feeling? What we do know is that for all we’ve given them, they have paid us back two-fold in joy, love and sheer delight in their company. We were so fortunate to have extended our home to these sterling people as they have extended their lives and love to include us too, and for that we are most grateful.
With love to all,
Kathy & Bernard
*We gave all the girls airfare, one year at the University of Alaska (two years for Camila), and a small allowance - that was our charitable contribution those two years.
BE SURE TO LOOK BELOW FOR THE REST OF THE PHOTOS (30 TOTAL). ALSO, YOU'LL NEED TO CLICK ON PAGE 2 FOR
1991 Marcela (Argentina) - THEN
Marcela, Vicky's twin, came to Alaska in 1991. Geeze, we all looked so young then!!
THE REST OF THE STORY AFER YOU'VE LOOKED AT THE PHOTOS BELOW.
YOU HAVE TO GO ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR ALL THE PHOTOS; THEN COME BACK UP AND CLICK ON SUBSEQUENT PAGES FOR MORE PHOTOS.
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Carlos - ARGENTINA - ANCHORAGE
INMENSA ALEGRIA DE VER A TODOS JUNTOS
Es una gran alegria de ver a todos juntos, a personas que se quieren tanto y hacen que el mundo sea un pequeño lugar y más feliz. La alegria se refleja en cada uno de sus rostros. Son en definitiva una super familia, y festejo eso. Salvo a Marysia que no tuve la suerte de conocer personalmente a las otras 4 las conozco muy bien... y son cada palabra que dicen de ellas Bernardo y Kathy, son algo especial en este fantastico mundo. Chicas se ven fantásticas en las fotos!! Todas juntas.. felices.. todo posible por la magia de dos seres MAGICOS que son Bernie & Kathy.... Tenemos que encontar la formula urgente para clonar a estos dos y hacer un número indefinido de copias. Sepan que los quiero a todos mucho... y feliz de recibir este correo tan increíble... Vick, Marce, Camila y Jackie... las siento muy cerca y siempre las tengo presente... a pesar de las distancias y de los tiempos.... (obvio las fotos mienten... jajajajj que graciosos los cambios...) Un fuerte beso... y escribo en castellano.. porque es la forma de transmitir la gran emoción que siento al verlos a todos.... LOS QUIERO MUCHO... Y SIEMPRE ESTARAN EN MI CORAZON.... GRACIAS POR COMPARTIR ESTE MOMENTO!!!! HASTA SIEMPRE CARLIN
Peggy Rawitz Kugel
I truly believe that creating connections like Bernie and Kathy have done moves us one step closer to world peace. Five steps in this case. Can you imagine what a difference it would make if everyone made one friend in another country? Kathy and Bernie, you are amazing.
Joan & Ray
You are such wonderful representative of our country. Thank you. We are traveling in our 5th wheel. Went to Cape Cod to celebrate oldest son's birthday(how many, I'll take the 5th). We are on the way home. Now on Louisiana/Texas border head for Las Cruces, N. Mex where Ray's grandson is getting married. We have about 5,400 miles on the road. Our butts are paralized. Love hearing from you.
I admire your gesture very much. Giving wonderful opportunity to as many as 5 daughters ( !) is nothing less than a miracle. Salute.