Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Courtney Is Off!

Courtney left to her French Immersion/service program today. I am so excited for her! But I'm going to miss her too!  It's been a teary few days thinking about her leaving for so long!  

She can call or e-mail home once a week, but it's not a set day or time. So we will have more of a chance hearing from her through e-mail.  When the kids are away at camp, I've never felt the need to check in with them on a regular basis.  When I was a teen, I loved my weeks away from home immersed in a whole new experience with new friends and never felt the need to regularly talk to my parents. I assume my kids feel the same.

I think our culture where we send missionaries out for two years where we only hope for weekly updates as well as look forward to semi-annual phone calls helps give us this mindset.  Her service program follows the same principles.  We just received an e-mail from the program director outlining their philosophy:

"These days there are summer programs that post daily updates, video clips and blogs on their websites. Participants have steady access to e-mail or can call home whenever they wish. VISIONS is not such a program.
We're available 24 hours, seven days a week for emergencies. Our leaders make time at the airports for kids to call home to confirm arrival, and participants have time once a week to make calls and at some sites to write emails.

Apart from these protocols, VISIONS shares the same philosophy as Rotary International Youth Exchange programs. Established in 1929, Rotary Youth Exchange is the oldest and still one of the best international youth exchange programs. During students' first three months in-country, Rotary expressly discourages regular communications from parents. (In fact, Rotary prefers no phone calls to/from home in the first three months.) The reason, simply put, is because Rotary (and we) want teens to be as immersed as possible in their experiences."

I am happy Courtney gets to be a part of this program where she and the other youth will immerse themselves as much as possible.  I have confidence in Courtney that she will make new friends, be happy each day and find ways to get through any struggles.  She's a pretty amazing girl. She's resourceful, has a steady head on her shoulders and knows how and when to get down on her knees in prayer.  All tools that will help her be successful.

I remember when she was 3--almost 4--and I told her we were moving to California. We had just moved to New Jersey 5 months prior.  I told her how excited we were but gently reminded her it meant she would be leaving her friends.  Upbeat, she responded, "That's okay mom, I can make new ones!" 

 Today before she left, Dan gave her a Father's Blessing. As he said, "Courtney Adair Shaeffer," I suddenly felt it was just a moment before that he was holding her in his arms saying her name in the same sacred way as he was blessing her as a baby.  Time!

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