Welcome to our first two-part series on someone I believe to be a very inspirational traveler. In this week’s article we will see how she got her start in experiencing other cultures, then check back in next week for details on her most recent and eye-opening trip to Africa.
Beverly Peterson’s international experiences began when she and her husband, Pete, hosted their first international exchange student.
“To be honest, growing up, I have never thought about traveling out of the country because my parents never did. You know our travel was like -go to Yellowstone- or -go to Disneyland- or you know the little short things and one summer trip to California kind of thing but nothing that I ever really thought about until after I was married. I have been to Switzerland, I have been to Europe, Denmark, I have been to Brazil twice. I was mostly there because of the exchange students I guess, that is how we got started, we hosted an exchange student from Brazil back in 1998. My oldest had just gone to college. She was gone, so I had room. My husband had the idea, he read a little ad in our local paper, the Lincoln County News that said families needed… or exchange student that studied abroad or something. Our daughter Camille had always talked about wanting to go somewhere where she can still speak English like Australia or something. So, my husband called to see if she could go somewhere and [she found out] she’d have to leave her whole senior year and she didn’t want to miss her whole senior year. And so, they said ‘but we have got some students coming here if you want to host one’.”
11 days later, they had their first exchange student. “She was such a sweetheart and it was such a good opportunity, experience for all of us to learn about another country and to show her things that she had never seen like snow and stars in the sky, just simple things that we take for granted. And we continue to host exchange students since.” Beverly has since hosted 12 exchange students of her own and eventually, she became a coordinator for exchange students to help them get placed into families during their stay in the United States. One year, she was rewarded with a trip for 2 to Switzerland for placing 11 students with families during that year. She says, “That got the travel bug in me.”
“We took a big trip to Europe [about] 4 years ago… to see about five of them in their home and met up with a couple of them plus a couple that we placed but not hosted in our own home, one in Denmark, we went to France but we didn’t have a student in France. We went and saw one in Germany. We went to Norway and saw one, and we went to Amsterdam and saw 2. So, we saw four of our own plus a couple of them that we had placed that were from Europe that met up with us there… So, we’ve had students from Brazil, Spain, Venezuela, Germany, Japan, Norway, Poland. Yeah, we have had four from Brazil, two from Venezuela. I love south Americans, they are just so grateful, so loving, so easy, European’s sometimes are a little more arrogant and seem to think they know it all when we think we know it all but it is all good in the end, we love them all.”
Beverly then told me about one student experience that was a little rougher than the rest. “The second one we had was a spoiled rotten girl that had been giving her parents fits and they gave her a choice of a Catholic convent in Spain or United States as an exchange student. She chose us, but she didn’t want to live by any of the rules and she was a wild one. I kept wanting to send her home and my husband was like, ‘I’ll deal with her, I can deal with it’, because he worked at the youth center that I work at now. But anyway, we kept her the whole 10 months. She even went home to stay for Christmas which is against the rules, and I thought ‘she won’t be back’ but she came back. We kept her, she wrote us a letter of apology several years later. If she was our first one, we would have probably never hosted again but thank heavens we had a really good one the first time so we just decided we got a bad apple and tried it again and the third one, I just love like a son too. He’s from Venezuela.”
Beverly recently returned from a 3-week trip to Africa. Be sure to check in next week when we feature her trip as she tells us all about the things she experienced while she was there.