Well, we have just said Good Night to Masha’s first full day in the US….and ALL are exhausted!
Masha arrived in Fort Wayne at about midnight last night with her group from Ukraine. Seven children, aged 6-12, travelled nearly 40 hours with their escorts, Natalia and Max, to stay in Fort Wayne for the next three weeks. The group began their journey with an overnight train trip to Kiev, where they boarded a Delta flight to JFK.
After clearing immigration and customs in New York, the group boarded a final Delta flight to Indianapolis, where they were met by the Program Director and one brave host-parent driver. The final leg of this groups journey took them on a 2.5 hour car ride north to Fort Wayne. Reports are that only one of the children got carsick!
The group of host families gathered anxiously at about 11:45 PM in the lobby of Don Hall’s Guest House to wait for the travellers. A unique combination of excitement, exhaustion, and nerves filled the room, as families practiced their greetings in Russian and clutched floppy stuffed animals. Right at 12:00, the call came out…”They’re HERE!” as the minivan pulled into the parking lot.
Families craned their necks to get a glimpse of the first children emerging from the van; it seemed an eternity for them to gather their backpacks together and walk the short way into the hotel. One by one, Max, the group’s translator, introduced the bleary-eyed children to their anxious host families. Nervous hugs were exchanged, and families dispersed into the night
Masha figured out the seatbelt in the Honda, and we were off for the 10-minute ride home–the shortest of all the host families! After this quiet ride, Masha retrieved her backpack, elephant, and welcome baloons and stepped up to our door.
As always when meeting new people, Simon displayed his usual wiggly exuberance. I don’t think Masha was quite prepared for this, and she stood frozen at the door for a few moments, while I pulled him aside and calmed him down. Masha made it to a chair, where we brought Simon up to her. We let her pet him, and once he sniffed her, he settled right down. The two became fast friends later in the night when Simon picked a very quiet moment on the House Tour to let out an award-winning belch. It brought a laugh from all, and an amusing end to a hectic day!