By Sedahlia Crase
Our retirements in 2009 and 2010 allowed my husband Ike and me to take advantage of multiple opportunities for international travel. We had been associated with Friendship Force International (FFI) from its beginnings when we travelled to Ireland in 1978 on the second such FFI “exchange” shortly after President Jimmy Carter launched it. After 1979, our children and jobs took front and center but following retirement when I heard that Friendship Force of Central Iowa was looking for “ambassadors” (travellers) for their Ghana exchange (when you stay with families) , we jumped at it. Little did we know we would become hooked. Since then we have traveled internationally with FFI to Ukraine, Germany, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, and New Zealand and domestically to Western Michigan and Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
Friendship Force ambassadors belong to clubs and go on exchanges to other clubs. The homestay is the heart of FFI, whose motto is “Changing the way you see the world.” We have had 13 home-host experiences and felt welcomed and engaged in every home. We get to know the hosts and talk about their passions, jobs, politics, religion, We eat at their table and share in their lives. We’re always eager to meet our hosts and continue to find them the highlight of our travels.
Telling you about our stay with Isabel in Recife, Brazil will illustrate our rich and varied homestays-- I could have selected the young Ukranian attorneys eager to soak up English, the wonderfully warm retired German geologist and teacher, the vivacious Taiwanese pair with more books in their home than anything else, the energetic New Zealand couple who after retirement remodeled an 1880s house they now call home, or …. But on to Isabel-- and her passion for bananas!
Isabel (see photo above) is a warm, strong, gregarious woman who continues to run the “farm” -- really a banana plantation – after her husband’s early death. Colorful is an understatement for this 70-something woman; she loves to dance and does banana-inspired painting on canvas, cloth, pottery, and wood, which she sells in her small shop near her apartment. She serves bananas, deliciously prepared in numerous ways, with every meal. Her warmth, caring, and energy, and our soul-baring late-night discussions about our lives bridged the gaps of language, culture, and distance.
In our “free” time from club-planned programming, Isabel took us to her farm. Because it was Brazil’s election season and her son was running for mayor of his town, we experienced a boisterous, loud, parade-like political rally in addition to the plantation home and surroundings in this rural area. And we saw miles and miles of banana trees!!
Our home hosts have left their mark on us in very positive ways and have become as memorable as the many other sights and experiences we’ve experienced on each exchange. It is satisfying and both of us are eagerly looking forward to our next home stay.
For information about FFI, go to www.thefriendshipforce.org or contact Sedahlia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Never Thought Retirement Would Take Me to Prison
By Bev Kruempel
My husband and I retired from Iowa State University together in 2007. Each of us took a different path but with lots of time to do things together as well. We entered our future “weeks of all Saturdays” with caution. It took us awhile to figure it out, but we can now say that retirement gives us the flexibility to do the things we really want to do.
I felt strongly that I wanted to “contribute” rather than participate in self-centered activities. Valuing social justice, I became involved with a prison ministry and an after-care program with a goal to reduce recidivism; the program involves women recently released from prison. I soon learned of the many roadblocks that are faced by former inmates. A woman cannot get a driver’s license until she pays off all her debts, which grow during incarceration. She can’t pay off her debts without a job, and getting a job without a driver’s license is difficult. Even if convicted felons have been “clean” for years, few employers will hire them. It’s a vicious circle.
I’m on the outside council for Women at the Well, a United Methodist church within the walls of the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. We promote and support the church and pastor in reaching out to the women prisoners who need someone to listen to them, care about them and help them turn their lives around.
As a volunteer with Homeward Hospice, I substitute at the main desk of the Israel Family Hospice House, coordinate holiday meals for patients’ families, visit in-home patients, and help as needed. For me, this is a very rewarding way to volunteer.
A third significant activity for me is the Volunteer in Mission program to the Philippines. I travel with a small group to help paint Filipino churches and schools, conduct medical clinics and visit United Methodist churches in the Philippines. It is a valuable experience to work with and get to know the wonderful Filipino people. They have so few material possessions, but most are very happy and loving.
I keep connected professionally by being a guest speaker in a few ISU classes each year, attending the Family and Consumer Sciences in Community meetings, and representing the Human Sciences College on the ISU Retirees Board of Directors.
Keeping a good calendar is important to coordinate my husband’s activities with mine. This allows us time to travel, to see grandchildren, participate in Road Scholar programs and especially ISU Retiree events! In retirement, we get to choose how to spend our time. It’s up to us to make it meaningful!
By Jerold Mathews
My last formal teaching experience before retiring was in the summer of 1995. The class was part of the Master of School Mathematics program. One of the students was a Korean woman. Because she was unfamiliar with some of the technology I used, she visited my office several times. In talking with her I learned that she and her husband were working on their doctorates and that they had a five-year old son. At the end of the term my wife Ellie and I invited the family to accompany us to the Iowa State Fair.
As we walked through the cattle barns, their son Kyo-Suk took my hand. Not having any grandchildren I became, in my mind, his grandfather at that instant. Over the next three years, Ellie and I became very close friends with the entire family. They often came to our home, we vacationed together, and Kyo-Suk and I went to the movies several times each month. He learned to buy a ``Kiddie Kombo'' at Movies 12, he invited me to ``Grandparents' Day'' at Northwood School, and our families went on swimming and picnic trips in central Iowa. The accompanying photograph of Kyo-Suk and me was taken in Fall, 2009.
Eventually, Kyo-Suk's mother and father graduated and the family returned to Korea, where both parents are now university professors.
Kyo-Suk came to visit us when he was ten years old. Because he was worried about his English, his mother suggested that I find a Korean student to make his visit more comfortable. I knew that there were several Korean mathematics graduate students and I asked one of them to come to our home several times during his visit. It was through this student -- Eun-Youn Kim -- that our many connections with Korean students and families began.
I helped Ms Kim prepare for the ``Speak/Teach Test,'' a requirement for international students who wish to teach as part of their graduate assistantships. I met with her twice a week for a semester and she passed. She mentioned this to other Korean mathematics graduate students and from then until 2011 I have helped about two dozen students or their wives with English or, for several, driving lessons. This has been a great joy for Ellie and me.
We have met many interesting persons and their families, have learned a bit about Korean culture, and have come to know several Koreans very well. Some have graduated and have returned to Korea; others have graduated and have taken academic jobs in America; one has a three-year postdoc in Scotland, and one is currently working on a second PhD here at ISU. Our spiritual grandson Kyo-Suk is majoring in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. The photograph is of the two of us in Fall 2012. He will graduate in May, 2013, and plans to do graduate work in Biomedical Engineering.
In return for some amateur tutoring, Ellie and I have had a group of wonderful friends during the past seventeen years.
The Iowa State University Alumni Association is an independent 501(c)3, self-governing organization charged with the mission of engaging the talents and resources of alumni, students, and friends in the life, work, and aspiration of Iowa State University. Our vision is to become the lifetime partner in engaging all alumni, students, and friends with Iowa State University.