Golden Anniversary Journey Reunites Wilson Family with Exchange Students After Decades


50 golden years of matrimony have cascaded upon Pamela and David Wilson of Kent; a joyous occasion that entwined them with their son, Scott, his wife, and their children, on a jubilant sojourn. Laden with expectation and echoing nostalgia, the family journey saw them reconnecting with two American Field Service exchange students hailing from Switzerland and Finland, who had become part of their household three decades ago, while being student pupils at Roosevelt High School.

The matrimonial journey laced with memories dates back to when Pamela, now a retiree of PSW Surface Profiles, and David, the proud owner of the Portage Tile and Marble Co. situated in Kent, opened their doors to these exchange students during two academic brackets, 1991-92 and 1993-94.

The journey began on July 17 from Kent, subtly aligning with David’s birthday. The car headed towards Verona, New Jersey, to collect Scott, their son, who shoulders the mantle of the prep school’s director at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, located in Manhattan. Scott had recently been bestowed with a doctorate in educational leadership, management, and policy from Seton Hall University. Their travel party expanded with Scott’s wife, Shelly Waldvogel, a seasoned horticulturist and a garden designer of note overseeing clients ranging from sovereign homeowners to public institutions like the New York Botanical Garden and even the Montclair Historical Society nested in New Jersey.

Their travel odyssey took flight towards Milan, Italy, escorted by grandsons Rheinhart and Friedrich “Freddie” to form a majestic party of six. A three-hour journey pointed them to Engadin Valley in Switzerland, which was set to breed familiarity with the first exchange student, Niculin Arquint, and his family. Among the scenic beauty of the Engadin Valley, their week-long stay was peppered with e-bike rides, cog rail, cable car rides overlooking glacial peaks, a hiking day in the Swiss National Park, a quick day’s tour to St.Moritz which was convincingly eclipsed with exquisite meals including a fondue dinner at the secluded family cabin of Niculin and his wife, Natalia Willy.

The departure from Switzerland was marked with a drive back to Milan where the family admired the architecture of the Duomo Cathedral and toured Navigli, the city’s radiant canal district. Bound by the spirit of exploration, the Wilson brigade set off to Helsinki, Finland, expecting another week of familiar faces and memory rewinding with their second AFS exchange student, Mikko Tolonen, and his family. The Finnish borders welcomed them with open arms, tabled with family barbecues at the Tolonen residence in Espoo and eventful trips to nearby Parnü, Tallinn and Soomaa National Park.

A resounding sense of friendship and camaraderie also carried over to the younger generation, as the Wilson’s grandsons Rheinhart and Freddie formed a strong bond with their Finnish-Argentinian compatriots Mili and Andrés during their encounter.

Thus, an event as monumental as their 50th wedding anniversary, peppered with the warmth of family ties, the joyous spirit of travel and more significantly, the resurgent bond of aged student exchange friendships, made this journey for the Wilsons a spectacle to remember and cherish for ages to come.


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