I grew up in the small town of Callaway, Minnesota. And when I say small, I mean less than 250 people. It’s small. Even though I’m from a small town, I grew up knowing people from all over the world because my parents were Communicating for America hosts. They started hosting trainees in the late 1980’s, when I was in junior high school. Over the years, we have hosted several trainees on our farm and have built great relationships with a lot of them. Almost every year, a past trainee has come back to visit our family and reminisce. My parents even travelled to Denmark a few years ago and had a huge reunion party with some of our past trainees.
The trainees that stayed with us were complete members of our family. We were a rodeo family and the trainees would come with us on weekend trips, go to baseball games, and on vacations with us. One summer I was in Medora, North Dakota working as a trail guide and three trainees came and spent the week with me. The relationships that are formed through the J-1 programs are incredible.
After college, I worked in crop insurance for almost 14 years. Together, my husband and I have four kids and I decided that I wanted to make a career change. I knew that I wanted to stay in the agriculture field because it has been such a huge part of my life, which is how I came to be the CAEP Canada Coordinator!
Growing up, I was able to personally experience the J-1 program and now I get to work with trainees and hosts every day! As a coordinator, I get to see the different places trainees are at and what they’re experiencing. This experience is something that I lived with growing up and really treasured.
Even though I don’t live on a farm anymore, my children are still able to have a similar experience of growing up and knowing people from all over the world. Over the years, they have met several of the trainees that my family hosted and even some of the trainees’ kids. My kids have “How to speak Danish” apps on their iPods so that they have some of the basic words to be able to communicate with past trainees and their families. They truly enjoy meeting people from other cultures.
CAEP programs are truly partnerships. Trainees bring their own techniques with them and learn new ones from hosts. I am excited at what the future holds and am so glad to be back in touch with CAEP!