The rain fell mildly outside the sports building, an omen for the day. Inside a group of French and American students huddled, mentally postponing the reality of departure. We laughed, hugged, and some of us cried. This moment marked the end of a one week exchange program with students from Lille, France. I hosted Mathias, my new best friend, a gentleman. He truly was a social chameleon. His English was fantastic, and that improved the entire experience. And oh what a good week it was.
The most partying I've done in one weekend: costume parties, gatherings large and small, ice skating, etc... We even went jet skiing on Lake Erie with wet suits. It was 45 degrees, raining, and overcast. I have to put this memory to writing to remember. Maybe there's some embellishment, but adrenaline does that: Mathias drove first and I, holding on in the back for dear life had some of the most fun I've ever had. The experience was underpinned by the extreme desire not to tumble into the icy drink. With that in mind, Mathias punched the throttle at the bottom of a wave, shooting off of the top. I heard the engine rev up while we were in the air, then the jet ski crashed back into the chop. I was laughing hysterically, and we did it again.
It is experiences like this that will serve as bookmarks for the short week that 20 students from the Marcq Institute spent in Cleveland. And yet I find that the experience was more than the sum of the parts. The beauty of a cultural exchange, however short, is inimitable, the bonds formed between American and French students irreversible. It is these emotions that clouded, or perhaps cleared, the departure this morning. Fondly I said goodbye to my new best friends, recalling fondly all of the fun that we had together. Au revoir les enfants.