Our ISSE journey began in April 1995 when Emily, then a 5th grader at Mesa, hosted Melissa. That was the first year for ISSE at Mesa Elementary. There were a whole slew of kids that came from Melbourne, Australia. From day one Melissa became a part of our family. She felt like one of our own kids. We already had three daughters so one more didn’t make much of a difference!
Melissa returned to us the summer of 1999 for two months. She was having a bit of a hard time at home due to her parents divorce. We all agreed she would benefit from a respite in Colorado. That summer the kids went swimming, explored the woods behind our house, rode their bikes everywhere and just had a great time being kids. We did a two week road trip through Wyoming to Yellowstone and the Tetons. Melissa had never seen a rodeo, gone camping or experienced the wild west. We all had a blast. It was a tearful goodbye at the end of the summer.
We brought Melissa back to Colorado in 2006. Emily was graduating from college and Melissa wanted to be here. By that time all our girls were in college so Melissa stayed at their various universities with them as well as with us in Boulder. The four girls took a road trip around the west from Durango to the Grand Canyon then on to Las Vegas and eventually San Diego. What a nail-biter for Keith and me and a dream trip for them.
This August (2010) the girls head to Queensland, Australia for two weeks for Melissa’s wedding. She is the first of “our girls” getting married. Though Keith and I won’t make it we think it may even be better for just the girls to experience this next rite of passage together.
We never imagined fifteen years ago that our ISSE experience would still be enriching our lives. We are so grateful for Melissa and the place she (and her parents and siblings) holds in our hearts.