A Heart-felt “Thank You” to our Host Parents
Erny and Ketty Saghuber
[On my return trip to Lux in 2001], my host family somehow guessed what train my mom and I would be on and completely surprised us by meeting us at the train station in Luxembourg City! We spent 3 nights with them in Bascharage. They showered us with gifts. One morning we spent in Differdange, and the afternoon sightseeing in Lux City; the second morning my host family drove us all over the country! It was great—we stopped in Echternach, Vianden, Wasserbillig, Diekirch. I loved my host family when I was studying at MUDEC; now I can see that it was the start of a great continuing friendship.
~Dan Reitz (MUDEC ’97-98)
My experience in Luxembourg was life changing and was the most wonderful 5 months of my life. I am not sure who was in charge of pairing the students with the families, but whoever it is, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I lived with the Polfer-Grevig family, and from day one, I was not just a student living in their home but a part of their family. They included me in every meal, every family event. They shared every aspect of their life with me, and leaving them was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I left Luxembourg a more confidant person who now not only understands the world a little better, but herself as well. Thank you! Luxembourg was the greatest gift I have ever received.
~Lizabeth Weithas (MUDEC ’00-01)
Thérèse Flesch: My 2nd Mom
When I first met my host mom, I was more than a little nervous. My luggage was still sitting in Chicago and I had no plans on returning to the States for nine months. I met Thérèse Flesch outside the château like very other student. She had brought a friend with her to help translate, because she didn’t know any English and wasn’t sure if I could speak anything but English. I surprised her with my German and after a few days of getting to know each other, we began speaking often and my German skills improved.
I am the first student that Thérèse ever housed, so we became really close. She treated me like her own daughter and made me feel very welcome in her home. Thérèse loved to cook. She always made me try everything, too. I was never allowed to say no to some food until I had at least tasted it. My host mom loved to give dinner parties, so I met and became friends with many of her friends. I even know the mailman for Differdange. I have many fond memories of sitting at my host mom’s dinner table and hearing four different languages all at once. Times like that were very humbling.
My biological parents and my sister all came to visit me during the year, and Thérèse welcomed them as if she had known them for years. I remember having dinner with my mom and my host mom. It was odd to hear my host mom asking me to grab something, while my mom sat quietly trying to spit out the few German words that she knew. That was the first time I realized how close I felt to Thérèse.
For the rest of my life I will never forget the experience that I had in Luxembourg. I think my host mom made it even more enjoyable. She is one of the nicest women I know and I am very grateful to her for making my stay so pleasant. I know that I will always have a second home in Differdange and I look forward to the day when she can visit me in the States and I can welcome her into my home.
~Meredith Snyder (MUDEC ’00-01)
I was blessed with an incredible host mom! Megan Scherle and I were assigned to live with Kirsten Pederson for the semester that we were abroad and I would have to say that she made our stay very comfortable with a homey atmosphere. She was definitely our surrogate mom while we were abroad. I was able to create a close relationship with her. We celebrated each other's birthdays and holidays. I was lucky to be allowed even the smaller amenities that are all too often overlooked in life. When she went on small vacations, she would come back with little presents for us. I was allowed to use her phone and receive incoming calls. She provided us with our own bathroom and the use of her towels, not to mention that she even washed them for us, free of charge. In addition, when my mom came to visit, she was allowed to stay with us in the guest bedroom upstairs.
Kirsten would cook for us just to be nice. During stressful weeks she would bring us up coffee and sweets, and we would watch movies in English on nights that we decided to hang out with one another. When the end of the semester came, she gave Megan and me a Luxembourg book--this gesture was so nice because it's something that we can keep forever to remember the beauty of Luxembourg and all it has to offer. Kirsten helped to make my semester abroad the best possible experience I could have hoped for.
~Kristen Andrews (MUDEC ’00-01)
There were many different aspects of Miami’s Luxembourg program that helped make my first European experience a memorable one. There were the amazing faculty and staff, the beautiful château, and the host families. However, one of the most memorable aspects of the program cannot be found in any brochure or on any faculty list, yet you can hardly claim to be alumni of the program if you have not had this experience: meeting and getting acquainted with a friend of the program by the name of Roland Hoff. Roland has been a friend [and host parent] of the program for many years and has become as much a part of it as the château. He has become an integral part of the program through the hospitality and friendship he has shown to students.
Roland sacrifices his own personal time during the week by tutoring the students in their foreign language classes free of charge. On weekends Roland organizes hikes for the students and staff of the program, and treats them afterwards to an amazing home-cooked dinner. Roland epitomizes world hospitality.
I know that many students keep in touch with Roland after they have come back to the US, and he has been known to host former students at his house and go on hiking trips with them. After coming home, I can see that he has left me, and I would hazard to guess many other students as well, with the feeling of his hospitality and friendship. So I would like to thank Roland Hoff not only for myself, but also on behalf of all Luxembourg alumni for the hospitality and friendship that he has shown us. It will not soon be forgotten.
~ Josh Vincent (MUDEC ’00-01)
My host mother, Sonny Michels, was simply wonderful. She welcomed me graciously and made me feel right at home. She left fresh bread, tea, and homemade jam (made by my Luxembourg “Grandmother”) each morning for my breakfast. When I was sick, she prepared chamomile tea and honey to heal me.
Sonny was a young single mother who gave me great freedom. I was able to come and go as I pleased. If I was home on the weekend, I was included in family dinners. When she traveled, she often brought me a gift when she returned. She even took care of my laundry and my room so that I could really concentrate on my studies and my worldly explorations.
Sonny once asked me if I would like to have several friends over for dinner. I accepted and she prepared a wonderful spaghetti dinner for four friends and me! We had such a great evening! Another time, Sonny made a fabulous all day affair of fondue for several of her friends, her family, and me. We truly feasted all day! We did take a break, though, and attended a local festival, complete with cotton candy, various rides, and balloons. I will never forget that day.
As I prepared to leave Luxembourg in the spring, Sonny wrote me a beautiful letter. It confirmed how she felt about me and told me that as her daughter, I would always have a home with her. Of course, I was touched by this and treasure it to this day. I did not realize how true her words would be until 1998 when I returned to Luxembourg with my husband and 18-month-old daughter. Sonny met us at the bus stop in the center of town. I recognized her instantly and we hugged, cried, and laughed. It was as if I had never left. She welcomed us into her home joyfully, cooked dinner for us and took care of us while we were in Luxembourg. She was obviously proud of her “daughter” and “granddaughter” and the fact that we had come to see her. I felt so at home—even after 12 years away!
So, to sum up my memories of my host family, I would say that I was very lucky to have such a wonderful and loving Mama. I treasure her and our time together, as well as the freedom to learn, explore and grow she gave me. She truly is my “Mom” in every sense of the word!
~ Dawn Young Kelly (MUDEC ’85-86)
Wendy Roush and I had some great experiences with our host mother Alice Sneyers. One of the first evenings that we were in Luxembourg, she invited us to go to the opening of a private art gallery in which her friend was the premiere artist. We all got dressed up and went to the opening night party where we drank champagne, saw amazing art and met some very interesting Luxembourgish people including the artist herself. Alice also owned her own hair salon in the city. When she returned from a hair show in Italy, she tried new styles out on Wendy and me, which were interesting. Somehow I ended up with a European mullet. Needless to say, I got a new haircut the day after I returned from Europe.
Wendy and I stayed in pretty good shape while we were in Luxembourg also, because Alice was constantly forcing us to work out with her. She would say "Steps?" and that meant "Would you like to run up and down 10 flights of steps 10 times outside in the cold rainy Luxembourg weather with me?" She wasn't going to let her students return to the US looking like dumplings. There are several other great stories about Alice and the great house mom that she was. I'm sure that she will be very pleased to appear in the MUDEC newsletter; Wendy and I know that she deserves to.
~Amy Rechter (MUDEC ’00-01)
Marc & Christiane Boever-Grun
Marc and Christiane Boever-Grun and their two wonderful children Michel and Louis took me into their cozy and wonderful home like I was a long lost relative. One of the first things that I told Marc and Christiane, after introductions, is that I had suffered from chronic health problems the past few years, and so I slept a lot and got sick pretty often. I was so touched when they told me that if I was ever sick in the middle of the night, I should wake them up if I needed anything! Just like real parents tell you! They were always asking me how I was and offering me medicines or helping me with what I needed to get from the pharmacy.
I felt completely comfortable in the house. I was able to watch television whenever I wanted, cook and use the kitchen, and I was invited to eat with them at almost all the meals that I was home for. When I got home in the evenings, I would tell them about my day and they would tell me about their day, and maybe how the boys were doing in school. Even though Louis and Michel only spoke Luxembourgish and German, and I only spoke English, we still had fun together. Often I watched the cartoon Cat-Dog with them or we would play games. I also very much enjoyed the distinct personalities of the boys. Both boys were amazingly sweet, and I can't wait until they learn English or I learn German so that we can talk more.
One final best memory is the dinners when Marc and Chistiane's parents would come to visit for dinner. They would all be speaking to each other in Luxembourgish, but then they would also be trying to translate for me at the same time. Marc's dad would tell me stories about when Luxembourg was occupied by Germany, and eventually American soldiers stayed at his house when Luxembourg was liberated. That is how he learned English. And Christiane's father was a retired optometrist, so he fixed my glasses when they broke.
I got to go back to visit my family in August, and it was so nice to see them again. I am sure we will stay in touch throughout my life, and hopefully they will come to visit me sometimes in the next few years. My experience in Luxembourg was SO enriched by living with them.
~Elizabeth Gish (MUDEC ’00-01)
Nicole and Theo Arens-Scheer
My host family, Nicole and Theo Arens-Scheer, were wonderful. They were the nicest family any exchange student could ask for. They always had a nice breakfast waiting for us in the morning, they always did their best to help us learn French, and they were patient, understanding and very warm people. I always felt welcome in their house and fully appreciate the experiences that they gave Christine and me.
Besides taking us out to dinner, giving us rides to the airport, and taking care of us when we were sick, they also managed to spoil us with fresh croissants every morning! They were wonderful people and I do hope they continue to host students because they made our experience in Luxembourg a truly memorable one.
~Karen Kramer (MUDEC ’00-01)