March 2017 – Two 11-year-old boys met by the poolside in a Dominican Republic resort. The following three days were spent in one another’s company – breakfast, lunch, dinner, table tennis, beach volleyball and more. The parents met briefly to say hello to one another and the conversation was courteous and minimal. The families came from different continents – Europe and North America, spoke different languages, had different food habits and yet the boys got along like a house on fire. One family left on the fourth day. A tearful farewell was an understatement. The boys exchanged phone numbers.
Upon coming home, the North American family decided to be courteous and send a text thanking the other family for the wonderful time the boys had together and also inviting them to come visit, should they ever felt like seeing North America. The response to that text, from the father of the European boy read, “Sure, our son will visit you in the summer”. What followed was a series of family room discussions about the possibility of the visit. There were a lot of apprehensions about how the child would adjust to food habits because the North American family is predominantly vegetarian. The father of the European boy was reasonably sure that his son was easy going with food and would adjust well. The boys spoke to one another a few times a week in preparation for the trip, also exchanging their interests and likes and dislikes.
July 2017 : Summer arrived and so did the boy from Europe (alone, may I add!). It was a jam-packed three weeks of camping and sightseeing and eating out and fun. It was about meeting more North American families and sharing stories and also having a lot of them asking, “Wait, what? He came alone? You just met in Dominican Republic for four days? Do you know the family?”
This is no fable. This is real life. This is the story of our family and a European family, one of immense trust and friendship. I don’t know what came upon the European family to trust us in the little time that the boys spent with one another in Dominican Republic. They took a leap of faith and sent their son to us for three weeks. To me, this is what real world should be. This is what we as human beings need to believe in more. The family didn’t see us differently. They knew their son would be safe and loved and cared for. In a world of mistrust and chaos and hatred, this friendship comes as a breath of fresh air. It comes as hope and it reaffirms my faith in mankind. . The experience humbled us as a family. It was one of the best summers we have had. We look forward to a life-long friendship.