Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Letters From Grandpa Intro

I guess I should (re) set the scene.  When I was growing up we lived on a dairy farm around 3 hours from Melbourne.  During my high school years, my parents employed international agricultural exchange students to work on our farm.  In exchange for board & meals, they worked on the farm & helped out around the house.  The students we applied for were supposed to be 50/50 – 50% agricultural & 50% home help.  In reality, they all preferred the farming than the house work!

I can no longer remember the exact order they came, but the first was a girl from Canada (who’s since been back with her family on a holiday, then came for a year on a work visa, living in Grandpa’s house; & one of her daughters came out on the same exchange a couple of years ago).  

Then I think another Canadian, then a Norwegian girl, then another Canadian A.M. (but from Quebec this time '86/'87)  who has recently returned on holiday bringing the letters my Grandpa wrote to her on her return home.  Then a Danish girl (who is currently spending a year here on a work visa with her family in NSW); then a couple more Scandinavians, but as I’d moved out of home by now my memory is a bit sketchy; I was living in the city & didn’t go home so often.

There was a break of exchange students for maybe 5 or 6 years as my Sisters husband (at the time) decided to join the family business & work with/for Dad who purchased more land & cows to accommodate in 1994.  After a few years, brother in law decided that farming was not for him & he & my Sis moved elsewhere while he continued to milk cows on a relief basis for other farmers (they separated around 2001). 

With the added pressure of more land & cows came 3 French boys on a different exchange program, each staying approximately a year.  After them, Dad hired a full time local trainee/apprentice who worked for him almost until they sold the farm. 

Mum & Dad did a 3 week European trip in the early 90’s (while still having students from the original exchange program) & came home via Scandinavia & Canada, visiting each & every one of the students we’d had, meeting their families & seeing the sights they’d heard about from them.  Last year they did a trip to the UK & came home via France to see our Frenchies (as Mum likes to call them).  You can read more starting here as I blogged all Dad’s emails!

A.M. bought her Dad out for a 30 day trip this Dec/Jan, encompassing new years in Sydney, driving to Canberra, then Melbourne, then Adelaide; flying to Perth, back to Sydney, then to Uluru & back to Sydney before heading home to Quebec.  They couldn’t get a flight from Perth to Alice for love nor money, hence the too-ing & fro-ing.  

As I said, with her she bought the 3 letters my grandfather wrote to her after she returned home.  The first dated 1/12/1989, two years after she left, which I post for you tomorrow!


Ute said...

Wow, some serious exchange studenting going on there!

I recall there was an American girl at my high school who was an exchange student. Everyone was fascinated by her! You didn't get very many yanks back then, especially in a small country town.

Then when I had to move to the city, our high school had heaps of exchange students. Mostly from Asian countries. It's now called "Glenunga INTERNATIONAL High school".

Great story. :o)

Chris H said...

That is pretty neat, hosting all those people.

AlleyCat said...

Ute/Chris - yes, lots of exchanging! I don't think we could afford to hire someone full time - we dried our cows off for a couple of months prior to calving, so it worked well having help for 6 - 9 months at a reduced rate & we had plenty of room in our house for them to board. I only remember one high school exchange student....she was with us in year 11 & was as Japanese girl