“This air is so fresh and clean!” commented one of my two new friends from Serbia, as we hiked up Mount Philo on a crisp September day. The observation about something I take for granted every day, took me by surprise. It took my hosting some international visitors, to gain a new perspective for the place I’ve called home all of my life.
From time to time, the Vermont Council on World Affairs needs host families to open up their homes to international visitors who want to learn more about the United States or, in this case, Vermont’s progress toward sustainable energy practices. For a week, my husband and I enjoyed conversations around the dinner table and travels around the Burlington area with our friends, Dejan and Miroslav. Seeing our culture and environment through their eyes, renewed our appreciation for Vermont.
The clean air, the smog-less view of the Adirondacks from our house, the star-filled night sky and the quiet of our countryside home, were all sources of wonder to our guests, who were from large cities. They also marveled at our diverse array of cultural activities, locally sourced food and spirits, and Vermont’s small scale.
My husband and I toured our guests around some of our favorite haunts – Shelburne Farms, the Burlington waterfront, Church Street and Magic Hat Brewery. We stopped by the South End Arts District, which happened to be hosting the South End Art Hop. Wherever our travels took us, we came upon people we knew and introduced our guests to them. We took them to our favorite family-owned restaurant, where all of the patrons know one another, and everyone gathered to ooh and ahh over a full rainbow out the front door.
As we bid goodbye to our new friends, we expressed our thanks for reminding us what a special place we live in and for sharing their appreciation for some of the things we should never take for granted.
– Dawn Francis, Director of Government Affairs, LCRCC
[Interested in hosting an international visitor? Please contact Ashley Sandy with the Vermont Council on World Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org]