By Mari Karlsson, Central States Regional Director and Carol Duerksen, Area Coordinator
Have you ever seen the excitement and delight in a teen’s face when seeing snow for the first time…? Catching snowflakes in their hand and watching them melt… taking a bite or sticking their tongue out to taste snow…? Making a snow angel in their pajama’s… or building a snowman at midnight…? What fun it is to watch a foreign student’s first experience with snow… you just have to laugh at their antics.
Two girls from Thailand stood in the white world of the Colorado Rockies in a daze. They were on a SHARE! ski trip, and not only was this their first time to see snow, but they were supposed to learn how to negotiate the slippery surface on a pair of long appendages. They tried. They really did. But after a certain amount of effort, they found something more rewarding: photos. Photos with skis, photos without skis, photos of the mountain, photos by every sign, photos in the lodge sipping hot drinks, photos ordering food, photos wearing the proper ski clothing, photos with each other, selfie photos, and on and on. They had a great time.
The other aspect of exchange students experiencing snow is school snow days. This is especially hard for students from the Scandinavian and western European countries to understand. A few inches of snow or ice on the ground and the weather people go crazy and schools are called off. WHAT? Host moms or dads are scurrying to the store for the "trinity for snow days:" milk, eggs and bread because you never know how many days you are going to be cooped up… I mean snowed in. Then, the students learn to look forward to those snow days and a free day from school, but become disappointed when it’s just flurries and they have to go to school.
And what do most Americans do on a snow day…? Eat snow ice cream of course! It’s unheard of in many countries but an amusing American tradition… The simplicity of snow ice cream… put a large bowl outside to catch the snow, you will need about 8-12 cups of snow, one can of sweetened condensed milk and a little extra vanilla if you choose.
But, as with everything else, they adjust to how we Americans do things, and they get used to the ideas. Exchange students are, first and foremost, adaptable and fun. They transport us back to reminisce about our own childhood and prompt us to appreciate where we live through their eyes. And that’s why we love them so much!