Friday, July 02, 2010

It's A Small World, Afterall

If you have been reading this blog for even a little while, you have heard me talk about my sister, The Madonna,many times.

She is very active in the international AFS program and takes in exchange students that live with her for a year. She's had kids literally from all over the world. You really never know who's going to be at her house and what language they will speak. Alot of times she brings them to Pittsburgh with her. More on that below.

This is all well and good, but there is one thing I just can't imagine with all of this. Why anyone in their right mind would want to live with a teenage boy or girl longer than they have to after their own have left home is beyond me. She's done it 11 times. Could any of you imagine going through your testy 17 year old, eye rolling sighs for 11 YEARS!!!! But she loves it.

Anyway, this past weekend, my father and I drove to DC to see her. Her Turkish student, whom I'll just call Butch, was getting ready to go back home. What a cutie!! (Pictured below)It's very emotional for them when they leave.

She keeps in touch with all of them and has free places to stay around the world. She's been to Spain, Italy, Belgium, just to name a few. The parents are so grateful that she took such good care of their kids they treat her like a queen. As they should.

Here is her facebook post this past week when she was on her way to NY. (I wish I knew how to take a picture of facebook posts like Ginny over at That's Church! Does anyone know how to do that?)

We've been through this 11 times already -- always a hard night -- AFS students packing a year's worth of belongings in 2 suitcases and getting ready to head back home, it is bittersweet for the kids, hard on us but we all know we will see each other again. Can't wait to visit Istanbul it is on my "list."

Here are some of the comments:
Rodgigo: Hopefully Rio too....
Maureen Quinlan David: Rio is ver high on my list!!!!! Go Brasil!
Rodrigo Séllos: Yeah!!!
Hut Pongpipatchai: Bangkok too!! lol

The post from the next day reads:

"Well we're just about ready, I'll get to spend the last day in America with all 50 of our AFS students and chaperon the bus to CWPost univ. on Long Island. I get to sleep on the bus tonight,put them all on the bus to JFK by country and return home tomorrow night. It is certainly a sight to see--hundreds of of kids ...from all over the world going home after almost a year living an American life on the East coast.

But its the comments from this post that got to me:

From Gabriella Pellecchi: that was the saddest day of my life... truly

From Maureen: Gabriella, I can remember the day you left just like it was yesterday. Lis and I cam home and cried all day.

From Gabriella: my trip to NY I was crying soo much

Now Gabriella was here 11 years ago. For her to still say that is a testament to the connection my sister forms with these kids. The poor thing was living with my sister the year my mother died. She is from Turin, Italy. We all know the Italians don't celebrate death like the Irish. I'll just leave it at that.

At the end of the year she had to state in front of everyone at her school what her favorite part of her year in America was. Know what she said? "Partying with the Irish in Pittsburgh!" I just about fell over. I asked my sister if she told anyone it was a funeral........

My father still gets cards addressed to "My American Grandfather."

When her son,Jeff moved out, his room became "their" room. Bahadhur,Quint, Rodriguez, Luci, etc......

On their last day, they sign the world map on the wall of their bedroom. She also puts up their picture on the fridge with the rest.

Here is the map.(Also pictured above) I wish you all could read some of the things these kids wrote.

She really makes a difference to kids all around the world. OK, so maybe she is "Perfect in every way" as my mother and grandmother used to say. There, I said it. The Madonna, helping the world one crazy teenager at a time!

*I forgot to mention the time we took a kid from Belgium to Spillway in Linesville on his SECOND DAY IN AMERICA!! I'm sure he was ready to jump on the first plane home.


Judi said...

You're a great sister Eileen! She's lucky to have you....
That's all I gotta say about that!
Happy 4th!

Sue said...

Hey Eileen....
I think the Madonna should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is truly a peacemaker.....breaking down global barriers one heart at a time.

People want to preach peace, protest for peace, the Madonna lives and spreads peace by welcoming all of these young adults into her home!!


Nika Carlson said...

You popped up on my Google Alert for people talking about AFS, and I loved your post. I linked to you on here on Twitter. Hope you get some nice traffic. And thanks for the shout out!

-Nika Carlson, AFS-USA