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November 2011
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1989 Key Club Exchange Program Sparks Lifelong Friendship

Submitted by PG Gus Lammond

[The following letter was received from the mother of a US Key Clubber whose Key Club program in 1989 resulted in a continuing friendship with a Key Clubber from France. - Ed.]

"It was a pleasure speaking with both of you last week and sharing the story of the benefits of my daughter's Key Club experiences. Please find enclosed the post card and photo mentioned. Heather Wolf (left in the photo) is my daughter. Patricia Jahan (right in the photo) is her French counterpart. (Please consider that this photo was taken on the grounds of the US Naval Academy one afternoon in July when the temperature was 105 degrees!)

In the summer of 1989 these girls were 16 years old. They met through a cultural exchange arranged by the Capital District Kiwanis and the Kiwanis Club of Vendonie, France. 15 American teenagers went to France, staying three weeks with their French families. I think Vendome is a fairly small town so there had been some arrangements made for them to spend a couple of days in Paris. (Our French student, Patricia, actually lived in a suburb of Paris but she was able to participate in this exchange because her uncle, a Kiwanian, was instrumental in the planning process.) When the American kids came home, their French counterparts came with them for three weeks. For us, that was just the beginning. At 16, Heather spoke passable French and Patricia spoke better English so verbal communication was never a problem. The first summer was wonderful for both of them and for both of their families. So wonderful, in fact, that they were back and forth to each other's homes every summer for the next 5 years, independent of any Kiwanis sponsorship.

In the 22 years since the original exchange, they have remained in touch, seeing each other more often in France as Heather's work took her to Europe once or twice a year. Patricia's trip to the US this summer was her first since 1994. As I watched them together, sometimes speaking French and sometimes speaking English, I could not help but appreciate the blessing that was afforded them through the original Kiwanis exchange. They have forged a friendship that will be with them for the rest of their lives.

My daughter, Heather, was a Key Club International Trustee during the 1990-1991 school year and the Midlothian Kiwanis Club was her sponsoring club. She served as the Trustee to the Ohio Key Club District and the Eastern Canada Key Club District. I recently ran across one of the monthly newsletters she wrote to her districts during that year and remembered that she wrote them in both English and French to accommodate the French speaking young people in the Eastern Canada District. Her Key Club Trustee experience matured her in ways too numerous, too complex and too wonderful for words.

Heather graduated from the University of Virginia in 1995 and had a successful Wall Street career as a banking analyst with Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and, most recently, Union Bank of Switzerland, The economic conditions of the last three years were exceedingly difficult for her and we, her family, often thought life would have been so much easier if she had been a coffee bean analyst! She retired to her home in Annapolis last March and as soon as the US Tennis Open is over, she plans to try her hand at fiction writing. She tells me it is too soon to start baking cookies for the book signings though!

When I spoke with her yesterday, I mentioned that you would like to have someone from the Annapolis Kiwanis Club contact her. She is tentative about the structure her life will take post-retirement and is hesitant to make commitments yet.

Thank you for speaking with me and taking the girls' message of appreciation to the Kiwanis Organization. Perhaps someone still active will remember the exchange of 1989 and know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it was very successful.


Jan Snyder"

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