CISV Atlanta Newsletter – Summer 2005
As a teacher arriving back at work after a restful summer break, the new school year is often ushered in by the question, “What did you do this summer?” I’m thinking people will stop asking me this question because I told them—anyone who would listen—and I gave them the long version.
My family was introduced to the true CISV family experience this summer with guests galore. We received a phone call from someone we did not know named Pien Suwanee. In English, with a strong Thai accent, Pien tried got across that she was with CISV Thailand, that she was in the Atlanta area for a conference that had just ended, and that she wanted to know if she could stay with us for 3 days until she had to catch her flight back home. My wife Joni said, “You’ll want to talk to my husband,” and she handed me the phone knowing full well that we would have a guest on our doorstep very soon. You see, once you’re in CISV, the words “I’m a CISVer from…” will get you room and board in any respectable CISVers home.
Soon after Pien’s visit, my friend and co-worker, Tanya Fields, sent me an email from a like-minded organization, Georgia Council of International Visitors (GCIV), expressing a need for host families for Irish interns between the ages of 19 and 25. We got Caitlin McDonnell from Belfast, Northern Ireland who interned at the Marriott downtown for 8 weeks. Our daughter Emma, being a big Wiggles fan asked Caitlin to repeat the word “banana” just to see if Caitlin really “talked a different kind of English.” Her stay with us was filled with wonderful exchanges for our entire family.
Through our new GCIV connection, Shelley Hughes, we were sent an email from another like-minded organization, Fast Forward Learning Programs, headed up by Salina Harris, expressing a need for host families for Korean boys ages 11 through 17. “Robin” Lee Di Chun was our guest and Emma’s adopted “brother” for 10 days. We scoured the Atlanta area for somewhere to play ping-pong and I learned how to play and was soundly trounced at Chinese Chess more times than I care to remember. Robin and I continue to stay in touch as he works to improve his English.
I share these stories to get across the message of how important it is for us to be ambassadors of good will whenever the opportunity arises. This message I got loud and clear from growing up in CISV. When we invite someone into our home or visit someone or somewhere new to us, we open up new possibilities for friendship, understanding, and exposure to more knowledge of the people in the world around us. Through our new friends we see a different perspective and broaden our own in the process.