national flag of denmark

Mom, Dad: I’m leaving in three weeks…

  • Name: Russ Kathrein
  • Destination: Hojbjerg (Korup), Denmark
  • When: July 1978 - June 1979
  • Hometown: Cary, Illinois
  • Organization: YFU

 

I wanted to get away from my parents.  I was the baby of the family and had three siblings 7-10 yrs older.  My parents were solid middle- to upper-class, my mother was a travel agent, and my dad owned his own business.  My mom handled Asia and Europe for years and they traveled extensively all over the world. They were also scuba divers and instructors back in the 60s and went on exotic dive trips.

My mom read an article in the Chicago Tribune about YFU and spending a summer in the Philippines, so she cut it out and gave it to me and said this might be something cool to do.  The year before I found in the back of Boys Life magazine a scuba camp in the Cayman Islands and so I had done that.  We also hosted a problem exchange student from Mexico when I was six and my parents took him in.

 

English: The cover of Boys' Life published Dec...

English: The cover of Boys’ Life published December 1913. Read more: http://www.best-norman-rockwell-art.com/norman-rockwell-boys-life-cover-1913-12-santa-and-scouts-in-snow.html#ixzz1cE1NOO00 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

My parents traveled a lot, and when they did they gave my older brother power of attorney.  They went on a two week trip and I got my brother to sign the application about a month past the due date.  I really wanted to go to Switzerland and Germany because that was my heritage.

Since I had to pick a third country I picked Denmark because a teacher went there and thought it was pretty cool and the people were friendly.  I got a response right away that said Switzerland wouldn’t take me because I was too young and Germany was full and wanted me to wait a year.  But Denmark would take me.

So when my parents got back I went up to them and said, “Hey, I’m leaving in about three weeks and I’ll be gone a year.”  They weren’t against it, but my dad did the math and figured it was cheaper to send a kid away for the year than to keep him.  My Danish parents sent their son to America so they jumped into it without much notice as well, so it was meant to be.

%d bloggers like this: