For years, Vallotton farms has opened its doors to international farm exchanges. Trainees who live with them, work with them and learn from them. Every year as harvest winds down, they say goodbye and this week is their first goodbye of 2017. Making this a great time to appreciate all the amazing benefits international exposure brings to the farm, and to us lucky few who get to experience it on the periphery.
First, I want to say thank you to my sister, her husband and her kids for having us visit so much this year. My boys are 7 & 8, and so are starting to notice the trainees and really learn from them and have gained so much from the experience. As Valentin returns to France, I wanted to share a few things that my kids learned from being able to have met him. Primarily, it’s a thank you to him, but also for anyone who has considered being a host family I hope this shows that the benefits to everyone are far beyond the farm.
Kids notice everything. As we were leaving Canada and in the middle of our 8 hr drive back to Minnesota our conversation goes like this:
Andy: “Mom was that an F350 SuperDuty with a long box”
Me: “Yep, I think so”
Andy: “What kind of engine does that truck have”
Me: “No idea buddy, no idea”
Andy: “I’m going to miss Valentin”
Me: “Oh, why’s that?”
Andy: “Because he’s nice to me”
Andy: “And it’s also because he probably knows trucks better than you”
Enough said… You never know the impact you have in the moment, but kids will always know if they like you or not.
When our big group all went zip lining together the boys wanted Valentin to swing them around in their harnesses. He must have done it 20 times each. They laughed so hard, and every time they asked he smiled, picked them back up and swung them around again. Valentin being so patient with them, helped them to learn to be patient when their little cousins wanted their attention.
My sister once told me that time is a gift, and I don’t know if she told Valentin that or not, but he certainly gave that gift to Andy & Reid. Being able to hop in the swather for a few rounds (Andy's favorite), to riding in the grain cart (Reid loved the bumps). Learning on a farm means spending time watching, and he was so generous with his time to let them watch and learn.
The boys wanted to write Valentin a going away e-mail, and Andy wanted to make sure it was in French too, not just in English. So that e-mail took forever to write as we had to keep looking up words and conjugations (my high school French was not enough). I think it finally clicked for the boys how hard it must be to go to another country where you have to speak in your 2nd language all the time when writing one e-mail took a week. I think their empathy increased ten-fold.
5. Role Model
Being a role model means that your actions are louder than your words. Valentin was quick to smile, he took risks to come to a different country to further his education, he learned another language and showed them that it’s cool to be kind. I hope that one day my kids will be the kind of person that Valentin has been to them.
It takes a community of people and experiences to raise children. I am glad that my kids continue to have the opportunity to meet trainees who broaden their horizons and leave them with great memories.
Thanks for all that you taught us this summer, have a safe return to France, and good luck with University!