BY KATIE MATTESON
To follow up on last month’s column, we did it! Nick and I survived the Splash and Dash on Jan. 1 at North Beach and we have the t-shirts to prove it. We raised some money for charity and have bragging rights that will last at least a year.
Nick recruited two other foreign exchange students to join us. Mateo from Argentina and Paul from France took the plunge too. So it was me and three teenage boys in the crowd of about 100 other people – mostly the under-40 crowd, more male than female.
But I have to tell you that I felt younger and totally energized after the experience. I’m not quite ready to commit to doing it again next year, but I can definitely see how people get hooked. I found it invigorating and empowering.
It helped that because there was no snow on the beach, I was able to get a running start and imagine a warm summer day. I didn’t think about the fact that the air temperature was 26 degrees and the water temperature was 40-something (actually kind of balmy for January).
While the boys can thank me for one fun memory from their year in America, I credit them with motivating me to experience something new. It’s possible that I might not have gone through with it without my commitment to the boys. While I could have procrastinated until next year, they couldn’t.
There are lots of good reasons to host a foreign exchange student, which you’ll read about in this issue. On the top of the list for me is sharing experiences. Like jumping into the lake on the first day of the year. Like climbing to the top of the lighthouse. Like going to a movie. Like camping. Like playing Yahtzee. Like taking a walk. Like baking cookies. Like exploring a museum. Like canoeing. Like visiting Washington, D.C. Like going to a concert. Like taking a bike ride. Like going bowling. Like enjoying a lively conversation at the dinner table.
Some everyday things. Some things you haven’t done for while. Some things you probably wouldn’t do if you weren’t trying to create extra special experiences for someone who will only be with you for a limited time.
So while you may incur some extra expense for food, gas and admission fees, the return on the investment comes in the form of a lifelong relationship, a better understanding of another culture and a new perspective about what’s important.