Day 114 February 23, 2023 Kazakhstan

I am going to start doing some stories from our part of exchanges at Rangeview. Bud Blauer & Patrice Dovas-Hudson had very strong programs. Bud had a school in Kazakhstan to support the Russian language program. I loved having the students in my classroom every year and as a result, I received one of the most prized souvenirs of my teaching career. The students found out that I was getting my administrator license and I was looking forward to being a principal. I did realize that I like working with students and not adults so the administration idea went by the wayside. I talked to them about what an administrator was in their country and the kids told me that principals were aloof and autocratic and not much fun to be around. They even encouraged me to stay a teacher and not become “one of them.”  I didn’t think anything of it until many months later Bud came to my room and said the students had sent me a gift. They sent the ceremonial hat and staff that a principal uses for special occasions. I cherish the generosity of those students and it highlights the value of cultural exchanges. I was hooked on the idea and always open my room and classes to kids from these exchanges.

I particularly enjoy a full and complete exchange and not just a tourist trip. The students are immersed in culture, schools, and families. At the time I got the Kazakhstan Principal Regalia, I didn’t know that I was going to be a big part of another exchange. Patrice Dovas-Hudson was a great German teacher and has a heart of gold. She was the coach of the gymnastics team at Rangeview when we had one. She also went to college in Greeley at the same time I did but we never met at UNC. I was drawn in slowly and by the ever-famous talent, I have of answering emails that might contain new adventures. A family had dropped out of the German exchange and we got an email asking if anyone in the building could take a student. My daughter was a freshman at the time and we decided to do it to give her an experience. We never knew that we were going to be drawn in for the next ten years. I will do several stories on these exchanges in the coming days.