Monday, October 09, 2006



Immediate Goal: Application Fees - $800.00
Funded for Immediate Goal - $5.00
Total Needed - $11,995.00
Total funded - $5.00





The Rest of the Story-The Purpose of this Blog

Our 10-year old boy Keegan has been invited to participate in the People to People Student Ambassador program. It is an honor to be asked to join and the program is by invitation only. Keegan was recommended by a former teacher. The program was started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower who believed that if you sat down with someone that is different than you and shared a meal and became friends that you wouldn’t want to go starting a war with them. You can read all about the program here.

Keegan received a letter in August inviting him to attend an informational meeting about the program. That meeting was this past Saturday, October 7th, 2006.

Keegan is a twin. Kaleb is his identical twin brother. On our way to the meeting I explained to Kaleb that Keegan may get to go to Australia without him and attempted to come to an understanding that this would be okay. On the interstate Kaleb started to expound on his elaborate plans to stowaway in luggage or merely follow Keegan there (I guess I was supposed to drive him).

This is a real issue. There is this bond between identical twins. If you have identical twins then you certainly understand. If you don’t then let me just say that this is not merely a sibling thing. It would be like if you and your wife went out on a date but one of you didn’t go. It just would not feel right! There is no “fair issue” involved. Someone would be missing.

We arrived at the meeting place and as we started to enter the conference room we were asked if we would like an additional application for Kaleb…WHAT? Well, yeah, sure! SWEET! So Kaleb can go too? What?

The informational meeting was very informational. President Eisenhower, student exchange program, 19-day trip down under, application process, invite your friends, $6,000, high school credit… WHAT? WAIT, BACK UP. How much? Yeah, $6000 total. PER KID. The application needs to be submitted in about 10 days with $400! PER KID. CRICKEY! I wanted to crawl down under my chair.

But by this time they have you hooked! They’ve showed videos, a PowerPoint presentation, former student and parent testimonials…the teachers that will be leading the expedition. Let’s just say that Kaleb and Keegan were totally sold by this point.

Then they talked about the application process. The application has areas about grades, extra-curricular activities and the impact that the participant may have on Australia as they represent Kansas City and the USA. This is where my mind started spinning and led me to write the previous blog entry. My kids barely get average grades and don’t participate in many extra-curricular activities-unless making dinner and helping take care of their 2 ½-year old brother and their 9-month old brother count.

But y’know, I think they are perfect for this type of program. They are “normal”. They are a typical representation of children from the USA. They have 2 working parents who live paycheck to paycheck. Even though they are from an affluent community they are not wealthy. They love to learn. They love their family. They like to play. They really are kind kids and great friends.

They are also in a unique situation. They have opportunities all around them. Even though we do not reside in the upper influential area of Southern Johnson County, their mom teaches in the middle of that area and Kaleb & Keegan attend a grade school in that affluent area. The quality of their education is top-notch. They get to learn along with other students who have more financial opportunities. They are close enough to be in a position to do whatever they want to do and to be the leader of their own future and far enough away to understand the hard work that is involved in achieving success. They might not have the money, but they have access to the opportunities.

The informational meeting went onto explain the application process in more detail. If you applied, paid the money and proved that you were “mature enough to go” you would pretty much be let into the program.

So now I was no longer freaking out about the application process and had moved back to the cost. There is a fundraising website that they kept referring to.

So the meeting ended. We began our drive home. I explain that the program sounds great. But I don’t know how we are going to finance this trip, this huge event. An event of a lifetime.

But I know we have to try. I started to think of ways to raise the funds. Maybe we can have a garage sale, maybe sell stuff on eBay. Maybe ask for donations. Maybe…So I check out the fundraising website. It suggests you come up with creative ideas to sell things to make a profit. Then go ask all of your friends and family for contributions. Wow, thanks website.But we at the very least have to try. We’ll try to think of something. So this is where this blog comes in. This will chronicle the journey to raise the funds to go to Australia. Maybe we can do it. Maybe not. Maybe this is only the first venture to raise money, maybe college is next! Maybe they’ll start their own business. Who knows?

-Durk (Dad)-

Sunday, October 08, 2006


2 Parts Malcolm, 1 Part Sweet Life, 1 Part 7th Heaven

That is pretty much the recipe make up of my family. Let me explain.

2 Parts Malcolm - My sister in law, Tammie, gave me the first season of Malcolm in the Middle on DVD for my birthday present. It is truly a creative and funny show. Thank you very much Tammie! It is my family without the genius kid and without the authoritative mom (and no authoritative dad either). And it gets the most parts of the make up of our family. It is dysfunctional and has devious children always getting into mischief. My life is similar, we are messy, I had to pry the crisper drawer open in the fridge and I had to wade through toys, mail and clothes just to get to the kitchen. The light is broke (not merely burned out) in the kitchen, so we use the light above the oven and the light above the sink. Thank goodness the fridge has a light.

1 Part Sweet Life - I am throwing in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody pretty much only because the show focuses on twin boys that get into trouble. And so does my family. We have identical twin boys and they get into everything. They fight something fierce with each other. And they have different personalities. No, we don't live in a hotel and there is no laugh track. Sometimes we are very entertaining, just ask the neighbors next to us-on the other side of the wall.

1 Part 7th Heaven - The last part of my family make up comes from 7th Heaven-but when everyone was young and there was no relationship, girl/boy drama! We are the big family (4 boys) and our faith in God is extremely important to us. Beyond that I guess we are nothing like the show. But I really couldn't think of a TV show that was boring and uneventful. Maybe we are more like the weather channel-you check in with us from time to time, but there isn't too much exciting happening, pretty much the same thing, different day, with a storm here and there-we get through it OK though. The weather channel without the drama…HA, that is funny.

OK, where in the world am I going with this?

Keegan was invited to participate in the People to People Student Ambassador Program. A program designed to take local students and send them to Australia for 19 days to be exchange students. Sounds cool right? Well, Kaleb wants to go too. If you don't have twins this will just seem like a sibling thing, but they act in many ways like one person. So it is an issue. But you know what; they said that Kaleb could apply right along with Keegan! Cool right? Well the cost will be about $6000 PER KID. And $400 has to be paid with the initial application-that has to be submitted within a couple of weeks. There is this elaborate application process where you would think that they would "weed" out applicants and only choose applicants based on certain criteria such as grades, extra-curricular activities or how much the kid is going to add to the goodwill relations between the USA and Australia and thus aiding in providing peace to the rest of the world.

This is what makes me ponder the make up of my family. No geniuses. No athletes. No silver spoons. And even while medicated the twins still manage to put thought and planning into making a working hinged door in the middle of the fence-y'know, so they can get out through the side of the fence; the fence that surrounds the back yard of our rented duplex.

We got diapers, drooly kids (and a drooly baby). We eat in front of the TV instead of the table that is stacked with mail (we have a lot of mail), leftovers still on plates and food that never quite made it to the cupboards yet. (“We are just gonna eat it later.”) We have a puppy and the remnants-of-a-puppy carpet. The basement has a layer of clothes trying to make their way to the washer and dryer...on their own. Our garage is a storage area for all the stuff we don't want, but can’t even give away.

Well, glory day, it turns out that the application process pretty much consists of confirmation of initial payment and verification that your kid won't do anything to destroy the existing goodwill that exists between the two allies. And that the applicant won't cry to come home five minutes after he steps foot onto the 15-hour flight. They called this “mature enough to go”. Since there are no fences between our two countries I don’t think that goodwill will be destroyed (no planks to hinge). And as long as Kaleb and Keegan remain a duo they won’t be home sick for each other and cry to come home.

(Big sigh) That only leaves one obstacle…or how I look at it, 12,000 obstacles.

I don't have $12,000-twelve thousand dollars... And it just so happens that neither do Kaleb or Keegan. After seeing a video and a PowerPoint presentation THEY REALLY WANT TO GO! They keep asking, “Can we go? We really want to go.” And how can I tell them no? I mean the People to People folks gave us the address to a fundraising website! A FUNDRAISING WEBSITE!

So we are gonna give it a try. I mean it really is an opportunity of a lifetime if they go.

If they go.

This is where you come in. You will be hearing from us. We will be telling you how we are doing and what the latest news is! We will be knocking on your door, calling you on the phone, emailing you and snail mailing you. We will be trying to get donations, checks, money orders, PayPal payments and whatever else we can think of to try to sell you anything and everything that we can get you to buy from us.

Maybe my family will find just the right recipe for success. -Durk (Dad)-

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