Alfred, Lord Tennyson said: “I am a part of all that I have met.”
Like Tennyson, I feel like I’m a part of all that I’ve met. These are a few of their stories. And a few of mine, too. Enjoy.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson said: “I am a part of all that I have met.”
Like Tennyson, I feel like I’m a part of all that I’ve met. These are a few of their stories. And a few of mine, too. Enjoy.
“Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 167 AD
Karin Yarnell doesn’t have the energy to play with her kids. Or do house projects. Or be involved with her church or help others or spend time with friends.
All of which was a big part of her life just a few short years ago.
“I used to be extremely active,” the 40-year-old Maryville resident said. “I loved to play sports, work out, hike, swim, bike and run.”
Now, she does none of those things.
To look at her, though, nothing seems wrong.
But beneath the surface, she lives her life in pain.
“I rarely have pain-free days,” she said. “I have learned to fight through pain as much as possible to be able to do what I love. Some days, though, the pain wins, and I go to bed.
“I reserve my best for my family and my ministry. After that, there isn’t much left.”
She and her husband Jason, who is the Baptist Student Union minister, have three children, Meghan, Caleb and Allison. She is a homemaker and also serves as a BSU mentor.
Yarnell lives with what have been called invisible illnesses – chronic conditions not visible on the outside.
She was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2005 and Celiac disease in 2008.
With Hashimoto’s, her immune system attacks her thyroid and prevents it from making enough hormones.
Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine and is triggered by eating foods containing gluten.
She was on thyroid medication for several years but her body started having hyperthyroid reaction to it and she was taken off it.
Then in 2012, she was also diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
CFS affects many body systems making it difficult to do normal activities. Fibromyalgia includes long-term pain spread throughout the body in the joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues and is often linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression and anxiety.
“I have been under the care of several doctors and functional practitioners throughout the years who have all provided me with great knowledge and have helped in various ways,” she said. “My treatment right now consists of a very strict diet, rest, managing stress, low exercise and managing symptoms with medication as they arise.”
“Fatigue is the single most life-changing symptom I have,” Yarnell said. “I can manage pain. I can manage not feeling well, but the fatigue is relentless. It’s not a fatigue that goes away with sleep. It doesn’t go away with a nap. It’s always with me. It affects me every day.”
In addition to fatigue, she is extremely sensitive to gluten and has severe reactions to even a small amount of cross-contamination. She makes her own meals, doesn’t eat out and takes food with her wherever she goes.
“I try to set people at ease, but I know some feel uncomfortable when I can’t eat what they have prepared,” she said. “I never expect anyone to cater to my needs, but I know they still feel badly about it.”
Another symptom is brain fog which has affected her ability to communicate with others.
“I used to be a confident public speaker, but now I have difficulty stringing together coherent thoughts.”
She also can’t drive for long periods of time as her eyes grow weary and her whole system wants to go to sleep.
“My family is tremendously supportive,” she said. “My husband is phenomenal. He believes me and affirms me when I tell him how I feel even though I look fine on the outside. He prays for me. He encourages me to try new things that might help my symptoms. He adds extra work on himself so I don’t have to do it and he never complains.”
She said her children are incredibly supportive as well.
“They understand I can’t do the things I used to do. They make me laugh. They are understanding and sympathetic.”
Yarnell said her church recently started an encouragement group for women with chronic illness. It is open to the public and meets at 7:30 pm on the first Monday of the month at Laura Street Baptist Church.
“It is a blessing to be around others who understand how you feel,” she said. “I read a lot of blogs and talk to people online that share my symptoms. Sometimes it’s just nice to know you aren’t alone.”
One of the biggest lessons she’s learned is how to depend on God for everything.
“I need God every day,” she said. “He is my Friend, my Comfort, my Savior. I talk to Him a lot about the pain I am feeling. I know He knows and understands. He sees my struggle that is invisible to everyone else and He is there for me. He gives me joy, peace and contentment.”
She is also continuing to learn it’s okay to not do everything that is expected.
“The reality is that I can’t,” she said. “I have to choose to not feel guilty about it.”
Despite living with these illnesses, Yarnell offers encouragement and hope.
“It’s okay and important to grieve,” she said. “Cry over what is lost, but don’t quit.
“Be kind to yourself. You don’t have to do what everyone else does. You are fighting a battle others know nothing about. Don’t compare what you can do with what healthy people do.
“You can still be happy! It might take some extra work, and you might have to cut things out in order to give your best to what you find the most meaningful, but it’s worth it.”
Background information came from the National Institutes of Health at nih.gov.
Do you have regrets?
I always wanted to be the person who said no to that question. No regrets.
But do I? Probably.
I wish I would’ve done this. Or I probably shouldn’t have done that.
I’m not sure I really even like that question, though, or the idea of it.
Life is a journey, full of ups and downs, good choices and not so good ones.
And that is true when it comes to parenting, especially as our children have gotten into their older teen years.
I guess my husband, Larry, was pondering some of these same things last fall when he decided we were going to implement what he called “Family Time.”
Let me back up a bit and say that family has always been extremely important to us. Since our children were very young, we’ve tried to set aside one night a week for Family Home Evening, a program recommended by our church. We’ve also tried to read scriptures and pray together every day. And we’ve also tried to spend as much time together as possible, supporting them in their activities, getting together with extended family and enjoying family vacations together.
Some of these things have been more successful than others.
In the last couple of years, though, it’s been extremely difficult as our kids started high school and became more involved with things.
Larry was reminded of guidance we once received from the leaders of our church: “We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children. We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, gospel study and instruction and wholesome family activities.”
Have we been giving our children our “best efforts?” Not always. We needed to do better.
So what is family time? Ideally, it’s 30 minutes to an hour set aside for praying, reading scriptures, listening to each other without devices distracting us and finding some fun to throw in there like a quick game of charades, or if we have more time, a board game. Or we’ll watch a video on YouTube. Or just let them talk about what’s important to them.
I can’t say Family Time happens every single day. Some days it’s just impossible for all of us to be in one place at the same time and awake. Larry leaves in the morning before everyone is up and goes to sleep sometimes before everyone gets home.
Sometimes it’s only five or ten minutes, long enough to see how everyone’s day was, pray and read a few scriptures.
Sometimes we combine it with dinner. Or we read and eat at the same time.
Sometimes we do it over the phone or use FaceTime.
Sometimes we laugh so much we cry. And sometimes it’s rough, especially when people are moody or tired, and someone leaves the room in anger.
But looking back at the last six months, I feel more connected with my kids than I ever have before.
And more hopeful.
Because when I look around at the world and all the darkness that seems to be growing with each day, I want to make sure I’m doing what I can to help spread more light. And help them do the same.
If we want to see change in the world, we must be the change. And I believe that starts at home.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and by just having fun. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities.”
So I’m encouraging you to start your own Family Time, whatever that means to you. It doesn’t have to be like ours. If you’re not religious, that’s okay. Make it your own. Five or ten minutes when they wake up or before they go to bed. Or a phone call or FaceTime every afternoon on your break at work. Whatever works for you and your situation.
But make it a priority. Show them how much you love them by giving of your time, even when you don’t think you have any to spare.
You won’t regret it.
That they might have joy column by Jacki Wood, printed in the Nodaway News Leader, February 8, 2018
“Have I, have you, been too silent? Is there an easy crime of silence?” – Carl Sandburg
In November, Dictionary.com announced its word of the year for 2017 was “complicit” and wrote it “has sprung up in conversations this year about those who speak out against powerful figures and institutions and about those who stay silent.”
Complicit is defined as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing.”
They also wrote that complicity — or the refusal to be complicit — was pertinent to some of the biggest news topics of the year, from politics to anthem protests by NFL players to the #MeToo movement.
I’ve been pondering this word over the last couple of months, not for the reasons they chose it, but in regards to underage drinking.
Why are so many adults so complicit when it comes to this?
Responses I’ve heard include “they’re just being young and dumb” or “I did it when I was their age and turned out just fine.”
I served on a mental health taskforce in Nodaway County several years ago that also focused on underage drinking.
One of the things I learned was that teen brains are not fully formed until age 25 or even later. In recent years, more research has been done on this subject.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center: “Adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.”
The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association and National Association of Social Workers, in a 2012 brief to the Supreme Court, wrote: “It is increasingly clear that adolescent brains are not yet fully mature in regions and systems related to higher order executive functions such as impulse control, planning ahead and risk avoidance.”
I’m not giving teens a pass when it comes to underage drinking because their brains aren’t fully developed. I believe we can expect more from them than “they’re just being young and dumb.”
But as Meredith Wadman, MD, wrote in the Washington Post, “Kids will be kids so parents must be parents.”
“I don’t buy the argument that advises adults to wink and nod at underage drinking because it’s going to happen regardless. It’s not true that the attitudes of adults, and their seriousness about laws and rules, have no influence on teenagers’ drinking habits.”
She cited the College Alcohol Study at the Harvard School of Public Health which spent eight years studying more than 50,000 students at 120 colleges.
They concluded that students drink more on campuses that have a strong drinking culture, few alcohol-control policies and weak enforcement. They also found that few students engage in binge drinking at some colleges while 80 percent of students reported binge drinking at others.
“Don’t tell me that college policies and cultures — in other words, the tone set by those in authority on campus — have nothing to do with these disparities,” she wrote.
Wadman also looked at the University of Florida which was once known as a top party school before administrators adopted measures that included mandating alcohol education for freshmen and banning alcohol advertising at concerts and sports events. The binge-drinking rate dropped from 57 to 38 percent in four years.
Administrators and students at the University of Virginia created a high-profile marketing campaign to combat underage drinking. In the 10-year period that followed, there was a 33 percent decrease in binge drinking, an 81 percent decline in drinking and driving and a 76 percent drop in alcohol-related injuries among students.
Wadman used the word “parents” in her article, but I believe all adults need to step up to help combat this issue. Sadly, not everyone has involved parents. And even then, none of us can be there at every moment in our child’s lives, especially, for example, single parents working two and three jobs to support their families or those with other circumstances and challenges.
“If you see something, say something” has been a campaign by the Department of Homeland Security in recent years to help combat terrorism. I think it’s great advice to combat underage drinking as well.
It can take a lot of courage to speak up sometimes. We can be afraid of the consequences that might come in doing so. But potentially saving lives should be more important than backlash.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
This is a serious problem that needs all of our courageous voices speaking out.
So if you see something, please say something.
Note: this is a speech my daughter wrote for FFA Public Speaking Contest where she advanced to state and placed 6th.
The Salad Bowl of America: Are Immigrants Vital to American Agriculture?
Carrollton ACC FFA
6 March 2017
“Creo en el futuro de la agricultura, con una fe que no nace de las palabras sino de los hechos.” In English, that translates as,“I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds” (FFA Creed). I’m Hannah Wood, representing the Carrollton ACC FFA Chapter, and I have grown up in a home where I hear both Spanish and English. My dad is a Spanish teacher who has helped me better understand the lives and cultures of people with different ethnic backgrounds as well as how immigrants have shaped our country. I’m realizing how those immigrants are intertwined with American agriculture and that immigration will affect the future of agriculture.
The United States’ agricultural system is one of the leading producers and suppliers in the world. The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service reports that, of the 1 million hired farm workers, 42 percent are foreign born, meaning nearly 500,000 immigrants are working on farms today (Successful Farming).
There is a fear that using immigrant labor takes away jobs and income from American-born workers. Stephen Devadoss and Jeff Luckstead, writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, found that in California, where 95 percent of farmworkers are immigrants, this fear is not valid. They found that wage reduction was inconsequential, and that it would take over 80 new immigrant farmworkers to displace one American-born farmworker. However, one immigrant farmworker increases vegetable production, for example, by over $23,000 and strengthens the productivity of skilled workers by nearly $12,000 (Devadoss).
The Wall Street Journal reported about 20 percent of agricultural products were not harvested nationwide in 2006, and the losses in 2007 were estimated to be even higher, because there were not enough farm workers to harvest the food (Devadoss). Last year, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall cautioned a food crisis could occur due to labor shortages in at least 20 states where crops would rot in fields if something didn’t change. That is food wasted that could be feeding the hungry in this country and around the world (Barth).
By the year 2050, the United States will have an estimated 438 million people and the world will have an estimated 9 billion people. How will we feed those people if there are not enough laborers to harvest the food?
Juan Castro, a migrant farm laborer on a tomato farm in Alabama, only makes what he can pick. His day begins at 7 a.m. and goes until 6 p.m., earning $2 for each 25-pound basket he fills. That amounts to about $60 for the day, under the heat of the sun and the dirt of the field, with a chronic pinched nerve in his neck from bending over for hours, and little time for breaks. He said, “the only reason that we can stand it is for our children” (Dwoskin).
Milan Kordestani, CEO and Founder of Milan Farms, said: “As the demand for food products grows along with the population, farmers will increasingly struggle to keep up with demand, leading to the United States developing a reliance on foreign countries to produce our food” (Kordestani).
Solutions have been proposed to help with this problem including the Agricultural Worker Immigration Program. This bill has two components: a new Blue Card program offering a path to citizenship for current undocumented farm workers and the creation of two new Agricultural Visa programs to ensure an adequate, future agricultural workforce (Feinstein).
“Almost all the ideas lead back to one answer,” Kordestani said, “which is that we need to allow immigrants to come into this country to work the jobs American citizens don’t want” (Kordestani).
“I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true to the best traditions of our national life” (FFACreed). This country was founded by immigrants and have been a part of the best traditions in our history. As Kordestani said, “Instead of trying to find a way without immigrants, why don’t we find a way to keep them and continue to allow them to be a part of the American story of agriculture?”
I do believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds — the work and accomplishments of both American born and immigrant farmworkers. Our future depends on it.
Barth, Brian. “The High Cost of Cheap Labor.” Modern Farmer. N.p., 23 Feb. 2017. Web. 07 Mar.
Devadoss, Stephen, and Jeff Luckstead. “Contributions of Immigrant Farmworkers to California
Vegetable Production.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Southern
Agricultural Economics Association, 2008. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.
Dwoskin, Elizabeth. “Why Americans Won’t Do Dirty Jobs.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 09 Nov.
“Farm Workers & Immigration.” National Farm Worker Ministry. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb.
“Feinstein Statement on Immigration Reform.” United States Senator for California. N.p., n.d.
Web. 05 Mar. 2017.
“FFA Creed.” FFA Creed | National FFA Organization. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.
“How a ‘Day Without Immigrants’ Affects the Agriculture Community.” Successful Farming.
N.p., 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.
“How Inaction on Immigration Impacts the Agricultural Economy.” Immigration Impact. N.p.,
01 Apr. 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.
Kordestani, Milan. “From Farm To Table: The Lives Of The Immigrants Who Grow Your Food.”
The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Dec. 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.
Matthews, Dylan. “North Carolina needed 6,500 farm workers. Only 7 Americans stuck it out.”
The Washington Post. WP Company, 15 May 2013. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.
By Jacki Wood, “That they they might have joy” column for the Nodaway News Leader
So I have a “friend” …
Her oldest child recently turned 18 and is getting ready to graduate high school in less than two months. And she’s starting to freak out feeling like she hasn’t prepared him enough yet for adulthood.
Okay, yes, it’s me, not some friend.
Somewhere around January 3rd, it hit me that my oldest is graduating soon and I’ve been frantically trying to teach him all the things that I think I should have by now.
I’m no expert but I’ve been thinking a lot about what we’ve done right over the last 18 years and where we could’ve done better. Parenting teenagers has proven especially hard, like everyone said it would.
Sue Shellenbarger, writing for the Wall Street Journal in 2016, said the teen years can be “mystifying” for parents “when sensible children turn scatter-brained or start having wild mood swings.”
Not exactly earth-shattering news. But she said new research offers some explanations and scientists are changing their views on the role parents should play.
“Once seen as a time for parents to step back, adolescence is increasingly viewed as an opportunity to stay tuned in and emotionally connected.
“As adolescents navigate the stormiest years in their development, they need coaching, support, good examples, and most of all, understanding.”
Being understanding can be tricky, especially as you watch them make mistakes. It’s so easy to want to just correct them.
I recently read about Bert Fulks who works with a youth addiction recovery group. He asked how many found themselves in situations where they were uncomfortable but stuck around because they felt like they didn’t have a way out. They all raised their hands.
So he came up with the X-plan for his family, a simple but powerful tool for his kids to use at any time. It gives them a way out of a situation by simply texting the letter X to a family member who then calls the teen and arranges to pick them up with no questions asked.
“This is one of the most loving things we’ve ever given (our son),” he said. “It offers him a sense of security and confidence in a world that tends to beat our young people into submission.”
Adolescence is such a critical time, when we still want to protect them, but also need to help them continue learning how to become independent.
In “Helping without Hovering,” Dr. Mark Ogletree, LPC, offers these tips:
1. Look for opportunities to allow your children to do things for themselves, even if it means more work for you.
2. Teach your children to work.
3. Teach your children that choices have consequences.
4. Allow your children to have heartaches and setbacks.
5. Stand up and be courageous.
Courageous parenting. This, too, might be difficult at times. We might be afraid of offending them or having them be upset with us.
My husband and I talk with our kids. A lot. And we keep it real. They sometimes point out what other parents allow that we don’t. And that can take courage to remain committed to what we feel is best for them, although we are willing to discuss why they might disagree.
They might take offense at what we’re saying or trying to teach, but we talk through it, and hopefully, come to an understanding, even if we might not agree. And I think that’s okay.
Some of our kids’ friends have recently called us overprotective. And I’m okay with that, too, although I just call it parenting.
I’m sure it’s partially because I watch too many cop shows that have tragic stories about teens. But when they leave the house, I want to know who they’re with, where they’re going and what they’re doing. While I want to foster independence, I also want to make sure I’m doing all I can to still protect them.
We could talk for days about parenting teenagers and we’d probably disagree on different aspects.
But I guess the most important thing for me, at least right now when the countdown is on to graduation, is to simply spend time with him and create just a few more memories together.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner (and) by just having fun. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e.”
So show up. Be there. Love them. Have fun. Listen. And be understanding.
Barbara Bush, wife of President George HW Bush, said: “Whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change…Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.”
By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy
Disclaimer: this is not the best column I’ve ever written. But it’s probably also not the worst.
“You did it! Congratulations! ‘World’s Best Cup of Coffee.’ Great job, everybody.”
This line is from the movie, “Elf,” when Buddy is walking down the street and excitedly enters a diner when he sees a neon sign that says “World’s Best Cup of Coffee.”
It makes me laugh every time I watch it. You know, because, how is that even quantifiable?
Whether a cup of coffee is amazing or terrible depends on one’s personal taste preferences, right?!
Best, worst, most. These are all examples of superlatives, an exaggerated or hyperbolical expression of praise.
And with Valentine’s Day approaching, we’ll be hearing a lot of these expressions, which generally makes me want to vomit.
Not that I don’t love the day of love or people sharing their affection for one another. The issue is the “best ever” phrase. “I have the best wife ever” or “I have the best boyfriend ever.”
We’ve been hearing other superlatives a lot recently, especially from Donald Trump’s campaign and into his presidency.
“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
“I’m the most militaristic person ever.”
“I get the biggest crowds. I get the biggest standing ovations.”
“I would use the greatest minds. I know the best negotiators.”
But this is nothing new.
In 1900, literary critic and author Arthur Waugh wrote, “we are living in an age where everything is ‘most impressive,’ ‘most heroic,’ and ‘most immortal.’”
“The great arguments against the indiscriminate superlative are its insincerity and vulgarity. No man can use the perpetual superlative sincerely, since he cannot frankly believe that everything he has to describe is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”
He continued by saying this may seem trivial, however, “whenever the literature of a country lacks dignity, there is something amiss with the national life and character.”
Superlatives can also be harmful in relationships.
It’s like posting on Facebook that I have the best husband ever on Valentine’s Day and then two days later posting how annoying he is because he leaves his dirty laundry all over the bedroom floor.
How can this be? He’s supposed to be the best husband ever.
“They are really hard to live up to,” relationship mentor Jana Kellam said. “And no one wants to be compared and have to try to live up to these superlatives.”
For example, she said, your partner cooks dinner, which was delicious, and you say, “this is the best meal ever!”
“Your partner may have felt great in that moment, but underlying your compliment is the implication that nothing will ever be able to compare favorably.”
“The next time you’re about to compliment something or someone,” Kellam said, “find a way of doing it that is empowering, engaging and motivating instead.
“‘I love this meal. Thank you so much for doing this for me. It’s beautiful and delicious.’”
In our “superlative-saturated world,” Amy Bailey, writer for MyScoop, said our society is not just addicted to but has overdosed on superlatives.
“When everything is super epic and the best ever, there’s no way to differentiate between really cool and just ok… What happened to just being good?
“In the Bible, we read that when the universe was created, God saw the light that it was good. There’s no epic, there’s no amazing, there’s no best ever – it was simply good.”
Now, I’m not advocating for mediocrity but I’m also very much a realist. Life is hard. I do believe, however, that we have the capacity to change, to learn and grow and become something greater than we ever imagined.
Instead of setting unrealistic expectations, though, how about we simply look for the good and say so sincerely.
I might not go to that diner because of the neon sign advertising “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” (I wouldn’t go there for the coffee anyway, since I don’t drink it).
But I might go there for a “Decent Cup of Hot Cocoa,” to hang out with a friend or my husband or my children, and have a conversation that’s honest, sincere and real. And good.
By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader
Jenny Ahlgrimm describes her hometown of Hamburg, Germany, as “ big, modern and busy.”
With a population of 1.7 million, it’s sure to be a bit different from Maryville, where she is living during the 2016-17 school year as an exchange student.
But calling it a bit different might be an understatement.
“Pretty much everything is different,” she said. “Maryville is small and peaceful. Everything is green. The climate and the sky are so different. The school is completely different and the activities you do after school. In the US, everyone drives everywhere, and in Germany, you walk or take public transit.”
Experiencing all of these differences is one of the reasons Ahlgrimm decided to become an exchange student.
“(I wanted) to see what it is like to start over where you don’t know anybody,” she said, adding she wanted to improve her English and gain more experiences. “And it’s America!”
At home in Germany, she works as a lifeguard and swimming instructor and also babysits. She enjoys running, something she has been able to continue at Maryville High School where she was on the cross country team in the fall and plans to be a member of the track team this spring.
During her time in Missouri, she has enjoyed attending Kansas City Royals and Chiefs games, taking senior pictures, hanging out with new friends, kayaking and spending time with her host family, Paul and Cathy Rybolt and Dalylah and Shayleigh.
She’s also has fallen in love with Reese’s peanut butter cups and Sonic blue raspberry slushes with rainbow Nerds.
‘I am torn’
But Ahlgrimm said she misses things from home. German tap water, German chocolate, her family and friends and swimming.
And she’s faced a few challenges as well.
“The language barrier; I have a hard time coming up with the correct English word sometimes,” she said. “American History is extremely difficult if you are not American. I also had a hard time with the heat and humidity when I got here in July.”
She’s also had some interesting and humorous experiences since she’s arrived.
“Someone really asked me if we have electricity in Germany,” she said. “The answer is yes. Someone else said that being from Hamburg is not that special because it is only one hour away.”
And in case you were wondering… Hamburg, IA, is 60 miles from Maryville and Hamburg, Germany, is 4,567 miles from Maryville.
With all of her experiences – the good, the challenging and the odd – Ahlgrimm has mixed feelings but is grateful.
“I am torn,” she said. “Part of me can’t imagine living here a whole year, but the other part of me can’t imagine having to leave my family here.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
‘I was intrigued’
Cathy Rybolt said a friend suggested she look into it becoming a host family.
“I was intrigued,” she said, and after sharing the information with her husband, Paul, they decided to do it.
Paul is a student at Northwest and Cathy is the outreach director/MIS team leader at Community Services in Maryville. Dalylah is in fourth grade and Shayleigh is in third grade at Eugene Field.
“We have enjoyed sharing our love for the outdoors with Jenny,” she said. “Since she has been here we have been camping, boating and kayaking at Mozingo Lake. We also took her hiking at Indian Caves State Park.”
She said it’s been enlightening and educational for their family as well.
“In school you learn about different cultures but living with someone from another culture is very different,” she said. “Teenagers from different countries are most definitely not like American teens.”
Dalylah and Shayleigh are enjoying their time with Jenny and learning new things from her.
“I like having an older sister,” Dalylah said. “She has never had any siblings, so I am glad that I get to be her younger sibling.”
Shayleigh said: “I love my Sissy Jenny because she gave me a birthday present and she makes crafts with me. I like Jenny spending time with me and tickling me. She is teaching me German. We love her accent.”
And everyone loves that she shares her German chocolates with them.
To learn more about becoming a host family or being an exchange student, visit ciee.org.