Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Viennese Connection - Trying New Things

We live in a suburban area where there's a lot of pressure on kids and parents regarding achievement in high school and what colleges kids get into. Somewhere along the way, before my kids entered high school, I realized that this was a culture that was fostering this type of thinking and the atmosphere that went with it, and that I didn't have to buy into it. It was quite liberating.

So we told our children that high school is a time for trying new things. There were other parents pushing AP classes and comparing GPAs and so on. We felt a bit like outliers. Our son took four years of art in high school and then went to art college. Our daughter went out for basketball and track, played in band and orchestra, and also took some AP classes, though not as many as she could have taken.

The band program at our high school has an exchange program with a high school, or gymnasium, in Vienna, Austria. Every three years the band goes to Austria and while they're in Vienna, the students stay with families from the gymnasium. Jamie went and had a wonderful, fun, enriching trip, including her stay with a lovely family who carefully accommodated her diet and took her on outings. Every fall, a group of high school students from Vienna visit our area for about 10 days, staying with band families.

The next time the Viennese were coming to Illinois, Jamie asked if we could host a student, and we agreed. It was not a successful exchange. The girl who stayed with us was primarily interested in shopping - the exchange rate was extremely favorable for Europeans at the time. She wasn't interested in spending any time with us.

So the next year when the band again asked for host families, I told my daughter no. She really wanted to try again and what she said to me was, "You said that high school is a time for trying new things. I really want to try this again." She was convincing, we agreed to another exchange student. We had a lovely visit with Sarah from Vienna, and she and Jamie stayed in touch for several years after the visit.

Try new things, sometimes more than once.

1 comment:

  1. What a great program for kids! I love the phrase a time to try new things. You are so right. Way to go Mom!