Sunday, September 27, 2009


They got to see John, another Tanzanian student who will be staying with our sister and brother-in-law next semester. They enjoyed eating tail-gate food and meeting new American relatives. They got properly decked out in red ISU-wear. They learned how to point the right direction and say "ANOTHER CYCLONE FIRST DOWN!" with the crowd. They were privileged to see the Cyclones win against Army! They enjoyed Cy's antics with the West Point mascot (a horse?). They endured the long walk back to the car (exercise they did NOT need after the cross country meet that morning). But what did Dennis and Victor enjoy the most? (Be still my beating heart)............the baton twirler that was part of the marching band! Go figure!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Culture Shock

We are looking forward to taking the boys to the ISU Cyclone game Saturday. I can only imagine what new things they will see. While they may be familiar, at least in theory, with the craziness a soccer crowd can exhibit, I wonder if they will be ready for a night game at Jack Trice Stadium. For example, how does one explain tail-gating (a family tradition)? How do I prepare them for the noise level? The multi-media onslaught? The frenetic over-stimulation? The unruly crowds? I guess I won't even try. We will only get to go to one game this year- and I definitely think it's part of the American experience that they should........experience. Maybe no explanation is necessary. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Study Habits Revisited

Our children were good students, but they did NOT get up at 3 am in the morning to study for 2 hours. They may have STAYED UP that late cramming for a college exam. They may have watched 3 am come and go at a slumber party or camp out. They have set their alarm for 3 am to go on a mission trip or catch an early plane. But get up at 3 to study? Uh-uh. So you can imagine my confusion when Dennis asked me if studying at 3 would bother anyone. Since their room is upstairs and ours is downstairs, I said "No, but why would you want to do that?" This kind of behavior is totally foreign to all the teenagers I have ever known, and I am a high school teacher. Enough said. He informed me that this was common practice in his country. The students his age routinely study many hours of the day or night, sacrificing sleep and recreation in order to be ready to take their major exams. Wow. Of course, they don't get to be on an athletic team, sing in a school choir, hang out at the mall, or even see their families much if they go to a boarding school. They also don't get to talk back to their teachers, fail exams, or break school rules. Discipline is meted out with a cane. While this seems a bit extreme, I'm wondering if there is a happy balance between Dennis' and Victor's home educational system and our own. While I'm not advocating middle-of-the-night studying, I can see that we could learn from the high value they place on their education and they could learn from us how to turn out well-rounded individuals who can work on teams. Of course, I realize it is not that simple. But it is interesting to think about.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A New Crop of Athletes

We raised 3 football players, 1 basketball player, 1 wrestler, 1 track champion, 1 volleyball player, and a cross country runner. Ok- only five children but you get the idea. I thought we had turned in our blue stadium seats for our brown recliners. Wrong! We have a new crop of athletes at our house that are keeping us hopping from bleacher to bleacher- sometimes on the same night. Here are a couple of things I want to remember from the beginning of their time with us regarding sports.

When Victor got here, he REALLY wanted to learn how to play American football. (What he calls football is actually what we call soccer). So that first weekend, William went to the house to get a football. When he joined Victor outside, Victor said "What's that?" Since then, he has been practicing daily. William showed him how to throw the ball, James taught him to catch, and Dick taught him to kick. (Samuel reacted on the phone: Dad's playing football with Victor? He never did that with me!) Well, that's because he was milking the cows! Last Friday night, he got to kick off in the Varsity game! He is a very quick learner, and a natural athlete. His hands are 3 times the size of mine and he really wants to use them to be a pass receiver. Maybe in time........

Dennis was very sure that he did not want to play American football, but he thought he might like to run, so we signed him up for Cross Country. First meet- 4th. Second meet- 2nd. Third meet- 1st! I asked him what he did differently to beat some of the same competition that he followed in the first 2 meets. He said: "I just decided to win." Wow.

No one at the black and gold school seems to care that our stadium seats are blue and white. I think they've got a few more seasons in them.

Next time: study habits

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Welcome to my blog about the year that two young men from Africa joined our family. We had no idea what to expect- just a certain knowledge that this was what God wanted us to do. So we prayed.....and prepared....and waited......and went to Alaska! When we got home, they were here to meet us. We love them already and they have only been here for one month. Here is the first installment of what I hope will be many reflections about our year with Dennis (Tanzania) and Victor (Nigeria).

I thought I was prepared for the addition of two young men from Africa to our family, because we have successfully raised five active and involved children who are all grown and on their own now. Well, I wasn’t!

I found that there are some similarities: how much they eat, how much they sleep, how busy their lives become so quickly.

But oh, there are differences! Our semi-quiet, empty-nest lives have been turned upside down in three short weeks, but I have to say we love it! The boys are bonding quickly; they tease and take care of each other.

Victor is enjoying learning to play American football. He has progressed from not knowing what a football looked like to earning the spot of kicker on the JV team! He got to play on two plays in the varsity game last week, and the student section was chanting his name!

Dennis has earned the first place position on his cross country team and won a 2nd place medal in a meet on Tuesday. He makes it look easy and is an inspiration to the team. He also is learning to play some songs on the piano!

I want to share a story that is funny now, but was NOT so funny a couple of nights ago…

It was 2:38 a.m., and we were awoken by a foreign-sounding voice saying: “HELLO…… HELLO…… HELLO!” My husband thought it was the radio, so he began flapping at it trying to make it stop. All he succeeded in doing was making music play louder. So now, we have the voice: “HELLO….. HELLO…… HELLO” and the radio playing music loudly.

I started to chuckle when I realized that our portable phone (which is usually in its place at the answering machine by the bed) was in the other room, and we did not hear it ring. All we heard was the Nigerian voice trying to talk to our answering machine message!

Apparently, Victor had not gotten the message to every member of his family about the six-hour time difference, and his uncle just wanted to say “HELLO!”

We had one sleepy day, but for the most part our African exchange student experience has been wonderful and educational. Our nest is no longer empty, and we are trying hard to keep up with our new African sons!