Sunday, April 17, 2011

Au Revoir Kenton and Kathy

You don't always remember your first encounter with people.  However that was not the case with Kenton Allen.  One of our neighbors had hosted an exchange student and she had come down to visit Ray's brother about hosting.  They weren't interested, but we were.  She went home and called the Allens.   Within hours Kenton had called us and at the end of the call said he might have someone for us.  The next day, he called again and said, "I have this Swedish boy named Anders Warnestad that would be a perfect match for you."  And so Anders was.  This was in June of 1983.  This was how the Allens placed students,  some one was interested, they were matched.

Over the course of the next twenty years we got to know the Allens much better.  We hosted nine more students and served as area reps for several years.  We believe as firmly as Kenton and Kathy in the greater good of allowing students to visit homes in other countries as a means to furthering understanding.  We could never ever have the abiding committment to accomplishing that goal that Kenton and Kathy have had.

Kenton and Kathy were both teachers while they handled placements in the early years, Then Kathy retired from teaching to do AISE (American Intercultural Student Exchange) full time.  A few years later Kenton followed her, but it certainly was not retirement.  They were busy twelve months of the year.  First in placing students in homes.  They accomplished a difficult task of getting every student  they were assigned a home and school.  Then during the school year they monitored the students, planned activities and trips.  Kenton and Kathy also did the hard stuff of sending kids home who didn't follow the rules.

After Andrew graduated from high school, we decided that we were done with exchange students, our focus changed.  We would talk to Kenton and Kathy every now and then, so we never lost touch.
Last night we went to a retirement party for them.  After over 30 years, Kenton and Kathy have placed their last Swede, German and Brazilian.  They are moving to New Jersey to be near their children and more importantly the grand children.  We will miss them, but I know that the organizations they worked for will miss them more.  No one will ever  be more convincing than Kenton.  Best wishes and good luck!

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