A Letter of Thanks

On Thanksgiving Day in Germany, we go to school, like other Thursdays. To celebrate, I asked my students to write letters of thanks. Their letters were meant to be symbolic, written to objects, places or people that wouldn’t necessarily respond. 

As I think of what I’m thankful for this year, it’s more a group of people than a single one that I want to thank. And since, as parents of boarding students, many are an invisible force, I thought it best to thank them here.

Dear Parents of the Classes of 2012-14,

A Happy Thanksgiving to you from Kandern! As I write this, I am watching your sons and daughters compose letters that symbolize their thankfulness. They’ve written to tea and coffee, symbols of comfort and community. They’ve written to foreign cities, symbolic of momentous experiences in their young lives. And they’ve written to trains, airplanes and Skype, those links that draw them back to you, to home.

I watch them write, the classroom filling with the busy sound of pens on papers, punctuated by a giggle or the crunching of a Thanksgiving cookie brought by one of the girls. One chews on the end of his pen, staring out the window for inspiration. Another asks if she can write about being thankful for her warm shower, a comfort of home that she knows isn’t available in all parts of the world. I laugh, and say that yes, of course a shower is a useful thing to be thankful for.

And I realize that today, this third Thanksgiving Day far from my own family, it is these students who I’m deeply thankful for. I’ve found a home in Kandern, been richly blessed with friendships beyond what I could ever have imagined, but the students themselves, your children, have made this season one of the richest of my life.

Thank you for raising children who love to laugh, loud and often. Thank you for teaching them to ask questions–about everything–freely and eagerly. Thank you for endowing them with senses of justice and compassion, teaching them to articulate who they are and what they believe in a variety of contexts. Thank you for teaching them to live for Christ, passionately and earnestly, in whatever contexts that they find themselves.

Thank you, most of all, for the privilege that it is for me to spend an hour a day with each of your children. I am awed by the responsibility of helping them to grow into young adults who think critically, express themselves clearly, and live fully in relationship with Christ. I’m not yet a parent myself, but here among these engaging, energetic teenagers I’m learning, eager to know more.

I’ve loved teaching English since the first day, seven years ago, but these last three years at BFA have been special, a gift. And I know, Parents of the Class of 2012-14, that it is your sons and daughters who have made all the difference. Thank you, and have a blessed holiday.

Peace in Christ,

Kristi Dahlstrom

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