A change of life after a one-year YFU exchange
July 25, 2021 22:54
It all started in 1974 when the son of my parent's friends went to San Ramon, California and stayed with the family of the YFU Representatives, Mrs and Mr DeWees for 1 year.
When he came back, he convinced my parents to send me. They were interviewed by the French YFU representatives. In July 1975, we hosted David, a 17-year-old student from Bay City, Michigan, for the summer programme. We took him on vacation with us and became good friends. He went home in late August.
I was 17. On Sunday, August 24, 1975, I stayed 2 days in Jouy-en-Josas at the YFU headquarters, with a large group of French foreign exchange students. We left on Monday, August 25, from Le Bourget airport with a Boeing 707 for Amsterdam, where 80 Dutch and 40 Belgian boarded with us.
I entered the USA in Detroit.
Took a flight to San Francisco, via Minneapolis. Mr DeWees welcomed me and took me to my new host family, in Alamo for the year-long programme. They were a family of 3 kids, Jean 13, Andrew 15, and Bob 17. School started on September 2, I went to Monte Vista High School, in Danville with Andy, a Sophomore, Bob and I were seniors.
My whole year was Fan-tas-tic as the only "Frenchy", and I graduated! At the end of my stay, my parents flew over to see me and we visited California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada. On the way back home to Paris, we stopped in Detroit, Michigan and drove to Bay City to meet David's family. That's where I met David's sister, Karen!
In September 1976, my YFU host brother, Andy applied and lived with a French family that he didn't get along with. So he moved in with my family and we took care of him for the rest of his year.
We fell in love.
We wrote to each other for a while Karen and I, and in January 1979, I had some time off, I flew to Michigan to see her. We fell in love. She came to live in France for 2 years, and married on July 11, 1981, in Bay City, Michigan. We came back to live and work in France. We had 2 children, both with dual French-American nationality.
Unfortunately, our house didn’t allow us to renew the YFU experience and host a student. When he turned 20, our son moved to Montréal, Québec to try a new experience, where he stayed for 7 years, then decided to move to the USA. Being a US citizen, it was easy! But where could he go in such a large country? I called my YFU host brother, Andy who welcomed him to Long Beach, California, helped him find a job, a car and a place to stay!
Our son is still living in California. In 2014, his younger sister visited him and decided to stay with him. They shared a flat until she found love and got married in 2016. The couple moved out when our son had his 1st baby. Now our daughter will be a mother too, and our son and wife will too. We will soon be grandparents of 3!
In August 2016, we travelled to see them, and I attended my 40th High School Reunion, Class of '76. I met ALL my good friends like it was yesterday! One even flew from Florida when he knew I was coming from France! I easily won the prize for coming from the Farthest Destination! Karen and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Retired after 42 years of work, we will move to California closer to our grandchildren next year. And still have dinners with Andy!
Christophe Fresneau, from France