YFU Switzerland

Ewout, USA 1983/84

Sûrement que le départ dans ton année d’échange a été un grand événement: Comment es-tu entré/e dans dans cette aventure?

Some YFU students came into my class and invited all those interested in an exchange year to a formal presentation after school hours. John (Jean-Bernard Borruat) was the YFU-school responsible… and came 30 minutes late 🙂

Nevertheless, I was convinced and it did not take long to convince my parents either…

Comment s’est passé l’accueil dans ta famille (d’accueil)?

I guess my host family was a typical American family living in the Midwest. They were really caring (once in a while too much as they even listened to my phone conversations…)
My luck was that my host-father owned the biggest grocery store around and that my host-mother loved to cook. She managed to make 21 different breakfasts during my exchange year…

Quelle était ton aventure/ton expérience la plus impressionnante ?

Close to the end of my exchange year, my host family took me along on a 3 weeks trailer holiday. In Colorado I went for a walk and with the upcoming fog I got lost. Some 100 persons, dogs, helicopters searched for me. No food, no drinks, I spent the night outside (temperatures just above zero), I walked through bear and snake territory but I managed to find the civilized world again after some 24 hours. I made it on US national TV…

Combien de fois et de quelle manière avais-tu contact avec ta famille biologique pendant ton année d’échange?

The only way of communication was by letter (taking some 10 days to arrive in Switzerland) or by phone (costing more than 2 francs per minute). I probably wrote every 10-14 days and we called some 5-6 times during my exchange year.

As-tu encore des amis d’avant ton année d’échange?

Friends from before my exchange year? No, not really… But I still know a few persons I went to school with.

Comment as-tu passé ton temps pendant l’année d’échange ? Avais-tu un hobby spécial ou une branche scolaire spéciale?

I was member of the school yearbook team (which was actually a class we could take). With my camera I was following all sport and social events of the school and this enabled me to have a great social network.

Quel thème national/international ton pays d’accueil a-t-il spécialement abordé pendant l’année d’échange?

We were in the middle of the cold war years and a theme that many talked about was the possibility of a nuclear war.

I very well remember, Sunday night 20th November 1983… More than 100 million Americans watched the Premiere on TV “The Day After”, a movie about a nuclear war. All activity had stopped that evening and everyone I knew was watching it as the story was taking place and actually filmed in Kansas and Missouri.

Main sur le coeur: Est-ce que tu es tombé/e amoureux/euse de ton année d’échange? De ton pays d’accueil ? de la nourriture ? ou d’une personne ? Qu’est-ce qu’il en est devenu?

No love stories to tell… sorry! One or two flirts with fellow exchange students, but nothing more 😉
I did not feel in love with anything special; I would rather say I started appreciating certain things. Before I left for my exchange year, eating a cheese fondue was a real torture for me… During my stay, when asked about a typical Swiss meal, I answered of course “cheese fondue”. My host father managed to find a package of Swiss cheese fondue in Missouri and I had to eat it and pretend I liked it… In fact it tasted not that bad at all… Today I love cheese fondue (even though I will rather not eat the Gerber-ones).

Comment ton année d’échange a-t-elle influencée ta vie d’aujourd’hui?

Clearly my exchange year influenced and still influences my life today.

The way I deal with things, my behaviour, my curiosity, my positiveness, my willingness to change things for the better, all this and much more are the result of a great and very challenging exchange year in 1983/84. I met great persons and one of them became my best friend.

As-tu travaillé en tant que volontaire de YFU après ton retour ? Combien de temps ? à quel poste ?

I was involved in several activities between 1984 and 1990: I started as school responsible, and then I was responsible for French part of Canton Fribourg, and finally Regional Director French speaking part of Switzerland together with Chantal Weibel and Catherine Berset. From 2002 until 2008 I was part of the YFU Switzerland Board as Head of the finance committee and vice-president.