This story from Betsy McMahon, a former SU graduate assistant, was submitted to an SU Strasbourg staff member and is an incredible tribute to the lasting bonds that can form between students and their host families:
“In 1974 I was a graduate assistant in French Language and Literature at Syracuse University and was fortunate to have been chosen by the department to spend the fall semester in Strasbourg. I had made arrangements to stay in an individual apartment; however, once I arrived in October, I discovered that the apartment would not be suitable for many reasons, mainly because of no heat until the end of the month.
Luckily, the Syracuse University office in Strasbourg had just made arrangements for a new family to house one student; that family was the Borras family and I was the student! I would be the first student that the Borras family welcomed at their comfortable apartment, so I was the pioneer of what was going to be an on-going relationship not only between Syracuse University and the Borras family, but also between the Borras family and me. Jose and Anne Marie, with their two sons, Patrick and Manuel, were a busy family with their professional lives and family activities, but they always had time to help me or just have a chat.
A few times a week, I was fortunate to be able to share in their scrumptious meals, as well. Those meals usually included visitors and friends from many parts of the world, with many stories to tell. At the end of the day, Anne Marie and I would often sit in the kitchen, sip tisane and talk about all sorts of things — sweet memories. Anne Marie called me “ma soeur americaine” at that time and through the years, we’ve managed to stay in touch. When she met me at the train station a month ago, it seemed as if those 39 years completely melted away …it was as if I was still living “chez la famille Borras.”
As you already know, Anne Marie and I have kept our friendship through the years, even though it has been 39 years since I stayed at their home in 1974. I have visited them three times throughout the years with members of my family and in 1988 Anne Marie came to the U.S. for a conference and stayed with us briefly.
The welcoming, cozy experience in the Borras household was memorable because they always made a point to be sure I was comfortable in so many ways. Anne Marie is an amazing person and her husband, Jose, was also full of life, ready to crack a joke or talk about serious political issues over one of Anne Marie’s beautifully-prepared dinners.”