Operation for Friendship
2015 Max Käs from Weiden travelled with the youth exchange programme of Operation Friendship to Grafton in Massachussetts. There he spent three weeks with his host family Lacroix and became a good friend of their son Josh. A deep connection lasting till the present.
Friendship grew between the two of them in 2016, when Josh came to Weiden with OF and stayed there with the Käs family. After that the young men stayed in contact via internet. Then Josh joined the American Army. After the basic training there was the question where to be stationed. So the American was certain to apply for Germany.
And his wish was fulfilled. Since October he has been stationed on a nearby base. And they were very happy seeing each other again and about the fact, that Josh could spend the Christmas holidays with his “German family”. Being a hockey fan, they also went to a game of the local hockey team.
Josh Lacroix loves the hearty Bavarian Food
Contact only through letters
But this isn’t the only long-lasting friendship formed by Operation Friendship. Andrea Dobmeier from Neustadt travelled with OF to the States already in 1987 and 1989 – to Ware and Sturbridge in Massachusetts. At that time, you still wrote letters which took a lot of time – and the contact became less frequent, but blossomed again thanks to facebook. Especially with her first host family Vadnais they have intensive contact again. Andrea’s host Charles now works as flight attendant for United Airlines. He used this opportunity for a trip to Munich.
So, they finally met again after 25 years. In 2016 Dobmeier spent her holidays together with her husband and both sons in the States und also visited her two former host families. “It was an incredible feeling to stroll through the streets of Boston again together with Charles and his mom after such a long time”, Andrea is raving.
Andrea Dobmeier and Charles Vadnais in front of the Chinese Tower in Munich
Mom Jeri Vadnais is planning a visit to Neustadt for 2018 and in 2019 Sheila Brown – a friend of the Vadnais family – is planning a family holiday in Germany together with kid and baggage. “With OF international friendships have been developing which now also our kids appreciate”, Dobmeier emphasizes.
But also the two chairmen of Operation Friendship, Felix Steiner and Manuel Würth, have been maintaining friendship with Kevin Samar from the States since 2007. They became friends through the exchange in Grafton. Since then they have been meeting nearly every year, most of the times round New Year. This friendship extended to the parents of the three young adults and Kevin’s parents spent their Christmas holidays with the Würth family in Püchersreuth and the Steiner family in Neustadt.
The latest example for promoting friendship not only among young people is the development of the Eckert family from Schirmitz. Their daughter Marie travelled to Grafton in the States in summer 2017. From the very first day she felt being taken care of very well by her American host family Tabachnik and their daughters Rachel and Laura. And already during the exchange a friendship was developing between the parents via internet.
A Goodbye full of tears
The usual promises of meeting again soon at the tearful farewell were soon realized. Already three weeks later the family from Schirmitz had got an email with the information, that the Tabachnik family planned a short trip to Bavaria during the Advent season (December). The romantic winter season was perfect for visits of several Christmas markets, the first cup of mulled wine (Glühwein) and the very first roll with Bratwurst. “Without Operation Friendship we would never have found these international friends”, Marie’s mom Iris said. “Through the participation as a host family during the exchange 2016 there also further friendships have been developed with other families in our region, which have been lasting till now”.
The original article (German):