Tag Archives: Exchange Daughter

New Pictures from Irina

Irina, 2009

Irina, 2009

Irina sent me some new pictures. She was an exchange student in 1999-200, was our third exchange daughter, and currently lives in Minsk, Belarus. Irina is living The Devil Wears Prada lifestyle…next week she will traveling to Milan, Italy. Continue reading

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Advice for Exchange Students

Shadi, Texas State Fair, 2007

Shadi, Texas State Fair, 2007

We have had one unsuccessful exchange student. I’ll call her Julia. This picture is not of Julia but of Shadi who came the fall after Julia’s departure.

Julia did not even make it to the end of October. I wouldn’t classify her exchange as an exchange student horror or nightmare, but I will say it was a horrible time for myself, my wife, and for undoubtedly for Julia.  I still have a tinge of remorse that we could not save Julia’s exchange, but I am also confident, with six successful exchange students passing through our home, that we and our organization did as much as anyone could to salvage her year. Continue reading

Wurstfest: German Food and Texas Fun

Wurstfest, 2008

Marketplatz, Wurstfest, New Braunfels, Texas, 2008

Wurstfest is the Texas version of Oktoberfest that is held in New Braunfels, Texas each year during the first week of November. Olga, Asya, Irina, and Kate all attended the festival with us. It’s a fun place for an exchange student to absorb a little Texas culture. The two Muslim girls did not attend because Continue reading

YES Program

Norma

Norma, Texas, 2007

The YES program was established following 9/11 to foster understanding between the United States and the Muslim World.

My wife and I have hosted two YES students. In our small community, experience with Muslim countries is most often a relative who has been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Norma and Shadi were excellent ambassadors for their countries and their religion. They brought a higher understanding to our small town, especially to the young people at the high school. There is no question our YES students had a positive impact on their school and the larger community. Continue reading

Azerbaijian Hospitality

Rostov, Russian Federation, 2008

Rostov, Russian Federation, 2008

During our tour of the Golden Ring of Russia, after we had toured Rostov the Great, Olga, Pavel, and I were guests at her uncle’s home in Rostov. In this parting photograph is Pavel, Olga’s uncle Nabi, her aunt Elya, Kamila, who is married to one of Olga’s cousins, and Olga. Olga, our first exchange daughter, is half-Azerbaijan from her father’s side of the family and her father is Muslim. Her mother is Russian and Russian-Orthodox. Olga was raised in the Russian-Orthodox church. Continue reading

Asya and Sophia

Asya, Russian Federation, 2008

Asya, Russian Federation, 2008

Asya has sent new pictures of herself and her daughter Sophia. Asya was an exchange student in the United States during the 1998-1999 school year. I really like the picture of Sophia…it looks like she is trying to mine for pickles.

Sophia, Russian Federation, 2008

Sophia, Russian Federation, 2008

Terri

Terri and Shadi, Texas State Fair, 2007

Terri and Shadi, Texas State Fair, 2007

Terri and I were married in 1989. Our life has taken us from San Antonio to Fredericksburg, back to San Antonio, and finally to the great metropolis of Melissa where we have lived since 2003. She currently works as the budget director for one of the many suburbs of Dallas.

It was Terri who initially involved us in hosting exchange students. For the first few years of our marriage, she worked as a geography teacher and received a Fulbright Grant to spend six weeks in China. Upon her return, she spoke at a geography conference where she saw a presentation by an exchange student from Russia. Only a few days later we had chosen Olga as our first exchange daughter. Because we always host girls, Terri gets to take on certain responsibilities that only a host mom can…the ever-predictable drama of choosing a prom dress is one in which I only have to observe and not participate. Despite her bluster about being impatient and unwilling, she has never failed to spend whatever time it took to find the perfect dress. Continue reading