Today, we said good-bye to our friends from Beitigheim-Bissingen, Germany. Listening to conversations and observing the departure process, we overheard many comments that summed up this experience elegantly, among them:
- "They came as exchange students, they leave as family members."
- "This is always the saddest and happiest day of the exchange. I'm sad people are leaving, but I'm happy that this exchange provides these opportunities."
- "I couldn't believe the tears given the short duration of the stay."
- "You are so lucky you get to see these people again. We may never see our student again."
- "I watched my two German students during the concert more than I did my own children."
- "I didn't know that a single week could change my life in this way."
The essence of this ongoing musical and cultural exchange is the deep and personal transformation that occurs for each student from the inside to the outside. When a community opens hearts and homes to a group of students, lives are changed. When we realize that people from the other side of the globe are more similar to us than they are different from us, the world becomes a smaller place. When you add to this exchange the notion that it is based on music, the depth of the experience for all participants is enhanced even more.
The District 99 Music Faculty sends our most sincere thanks to all of our Host Families for opening your homes, and your hearts. You were all incredibly gracious, and you each made a strong impact and positive imprint on the lives of the students and staff that visited from Germany.
We are all sad that our new friends have departed, but, our lives are enriched by knowing them personally and through the sharing of music together.
Until we meet again ... auf Wiedersehen!