WORTHINGTON - For Judy and Jerry Eykyn, last Saturday afternoon felt a bit like a scene from “Back to the Future.”
As in the spring of 1987, their spacious garage in a quiet west Worthington neighborhood was the site of a graduation party for an exchange student from Crailsheim - only this time, the gathering was for 2018-19 Crailsheim ambassador Liss Huss.
The 1987 party was thrown for Huss’ father, Axel Huss, who was then rounding out his 1986-87 year in Worthington at the Eykyns’ home.
“Axel was 18, and our three kids were between the ages of 3 and 9,” recalled Judy Eykyn.
“The Worthington-Crailsheim committee had put an ad in the paper because they needed a host family,” she said. “We thought we’d try it, and he was wonderful - so easy to have, and our kids got along famously with him.”
In fact, the Eykyns enjoyed having Axel Huss so much that they hosted two more exchange students from Crailsheim in subsequent years - and many other German guests along the way.
Upon learning that Axel’s daughter, Liss, was following in his footsteps and would be the 2018-19 representative from Crailsheim to Worthington, they were pleased.
“When she arrived, we contacted her, took her out to eat and offered to be her last house,” said Judy.
In the meantime, the junior Huss has lived in a few other households, including with the 2017-18 Worthington ambassador to Crailsheim, Grace Moody, and her mother Joy; the Scott and Karen Burns family; and currently, with the family of Dawn and Bill Gordon.
Last September, the Eykyns traveled to Crailsheim for the community’s Volksfest celebration with friends Clasine and Roger Lester and Heidi and Larry Gasow, all of whom also share multiple connections with people in Worthington’s German sister city.
There, the Eykyns renewed their friendship with Axel and Heidi Huss, taking the opportunity to reflect on one of Axel’s escapades during his teenage sojourn in southwestern Minnesota.
“Axel could drive, and he crashed one of our pickups,” revealed Judy. “Of course we forgave him, and we laugh about it now.”
Although the Eykyns might be hoping Axel’s daughter will be somewhat less adventurous, they are eagerly anticipating her move to their home in the coming week.
“She’s so easy-going and speaks excellent English,” said Judy. “She’s a delightful young woman, and we’re really looking forward to hosting her.”
There was one notable difference between the 1987 graduation celebration and the 2019 party that the Eykyns greatly appreciated.
“The Worthington-Crailsheim International, Inc., committee members prepared and brought all of the food this time,” said Judy.
“It was pretty easy because they did 99 percent of the work; we simply provided the space for it.”
At the recent gathering, Liss Huss’ parents, who hadn’t seen her in person since she departed for Worthington last summer, beamed as they observed their daughter interact with the new friends and acquaintances she’d made over the past 10 months.
Said Axel, “I think it’s been a very good experience for her.”