Bienvenue, or willkommen

Ripon, Wis., Friday, May 6, 12:04 a.m.:

The Prestegard house, which was already at capacity, has one more in it for the next three weeks. Michael is shown with Moritz, who was born in Germany, lives in Paris, has a father who works in Romania, and vacationed in Italy. (So the “French Adventure,” as Michael’s school is calling our visit from the 27 Parisian students, might be better called the “European Adventure” in Moritz’s case.)

I find it remarkable because I could not imagine going overseas for three weeks when I was Moritz’s age. (I’m not proud to say that I had homesickness issues at three-day Boy Scout camping events at that age. The first two years of middle school were a mess for me.) I have tried and, of course, failed to remember nearly all of my middle school and high school French, so it’s a good thing that he seems to understand and speak English well.

(The other thing that, if you think about it, should be remarkable is that I shot the above photo with my cellphone at 12:04 a.m. Central time and emailed it to Moritz’s mother, who received it sometime after 7:04 a.m. Paris time, depending on how long it took the electrons to get from Ripon, Wis., to Paris, France. The wonders of technology.)

The kids are apparently going to get the full Wisconsinana (approximately 2 percent of “Americana”) treatment while they’re here, beginning with, weather permitting, a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game tonight. The French students’ schedule includes a walking tour of Ripon (which was named for Ripon, England and, for those who don’t know, is both the birthplace of the Republican Party and the former site of the Ceresco commune), a farm visit (which our family could do ourselves, of course), and trips to Madison, Milwaukee and the shrine that is Lambeau Field. And since the foreign exchange students are supposed to do whatever their host families do, Moritz’s schedule will also include church (are there Episcopal churches in France? Oui!), Michael’s Boy Scout meetings, Michael’s baseball practices, and whatever else we will do for the next three weeks.

Moritz should fit right in given that we’re all a combination of ethnicities that includes German (more that than anything else) and French. My previous blog detailed our lengthy effort to figure out, based on our own ethnic stew, what the kids were, for Michael’s fourth-grade genealogy assignment (we got it down to sixty-fourths), complete with pie charts for the parents and kids.  Unfortunately, my former employer decided to take down said blog, so you’ll just have to believe me about the pie charts.

On his first full day in Ripon, Moritz (1) became acquainted with our chihuahua, Leo (whose acquisition, I want you to know, I had nothing to do with); (2) ate two servings of my spaghetti (which proves he is a young  man of excellent taste); and (3) saw the medical helicopter come in at the hospital across the street. He also gave his host “parents” two French chocolate bars, which his host parents will keep from anyone in the household younger than 45.

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