Maureen Connors Badding arrived in Wauwatosa 22 years ago via Buffalo and Phoenix. She's a freelance writer and habitual volunteer who enjoys book clubs, travel, entertaining and cheering for her daughter's swim team.
It was 14 years ago this week that I slipped on a patch of black ice, flew up in the air and landed on my right ankle, smashing it to bits. After surgery to piece it back together with a metal plate and numerous screws and pins, I was in several casts over the next six months -- while trying to keep up with a two-year-old. It wasn't pretty.
So as I tentatively walk the dog these days, I keep encountering terrifying reminders of that horrible fall and miserable recovery. The hardware will always be a part of me, and I'm starting to think the abject fear of ice will be too.
Yes, it's been an awful winter and, yes, there have even been salt shortages. But this time of year is hazardous with daily melting and refreezing. I'm asking -- no, begging -- all Tosa homeowners to please sprinkle a little salt on their sidewalks to dry up the icy runoff.
If you live on a corner and have a six-foot strip of ice running along your curb (and that's most streets on the east side where the plows rounded the corners at 35 mph) a little salt would be appreciated there, too. It just might save someone a trip to the ER.
I am in denial that we're one quarter away from the end of the school year. For one thing, that will mark the end of my daughter's junior year in high school and the beginning of -- well, more than I can bear to think about right now. Second, it means we're coming to the close of the AFS season. In a few months, Tosa's foreign exchange students will say goodbye to their host families and friends and return to their home countries.
The AFS mission statement says something about “working toward a more just and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural learning experiences.”
That's all true, but I also know from experience that the exchange process is a lot of fun too. Many years ago, I was on the student side of foreign study. This year, I've been on the liaison side, serving as a sounding board and "backup mom" for a delightful young woman from Italy. In fact, all of the exchange students in Tosa have been delightful and exceptionally engaged in school and social activities. (Whether they had ever seen a basketball game before or not didn't seem to matter when they were cheering the Red Raiders to their Division I championship.)
An AFS exchange is an amazing growth experience for the student. Their English language abilities blossom as they pick up American teen slang seemingly overnight. Their personalities blossom too, as they build character and confidence. The experience builds lifelong friendships along with a more tolerant vision of the world.
More important for all of you reading this is the fact that the students' American families and friends get just as much joy and personal growth out of the experience.
That's important because this is the time of year when AFS is recruiting host families and liaisons for the next school year. Consider opening up your home as a host family or freeing up your schedule a few hours each month as a liaison. I promise you'll get a lot out of it.
If you're interested in finding out more about AFS in Wauwatosa, contact Cathy Laszewski at 453-4473.