Editor’s note: Donna Winger of Weed wrote an introduction to the correspondence she received from Lise Wich, a former exchange student from Denmark who attended College of the Siskiyous two decades ago and returned this fall for a visit.
By Donna Winger
About two years ago, I noticed an interesting series of Likes on Weed Pride’s FaceBook Page.
As the principle administrator for this volunteer community page I enjoy seeing who clicks Like to follow our happenings. If the name and profile picture catches my interest I sometimes look to see where our new fan is from, so when I started seeing a trickle of activity coming from Denmark I couldn’t resist investigating what this was all about.
My investigation led to Lise Wich, an English teacher in Arhus, Denmark, whose connection to our Weed Pride page stemmed from her exchange student years at COS.
From 1995 to 1997 Lise studied and played volleyball under Coach Tom Powers.
Another former player from Denmark had come to COS and helped Lise connect with Coach Powers. Upon learning some of her family members and friends were following the Weed Pride page, I dubbed them our Weed Pride/Denmark Connection and when she asked where she could get Weed Pride shirts for her and her family it seemed a bit complicated.
But it all worked out when Lise notified me she, her husband and step-daughter would be coming through Weed in September for a visit. The staff at the Hi-Lo helped get t-shirts for her and her parents and although I was out of town and missed meeting her I asked her to write about her visit. So here is her account of bringing her family back to see her college and the small town she still holds in her heart.
By Lise Wich
In the days before the internet it was difficult to get in touch with American schools if you were European, but I was put in touch with COS volleyball coach Tom Powers by a friend of mine who had gone to COS before me. Coming to a small town and college like Weed and COS turned out to be just right for me.
Adjusting to a new country is hard enough, but within smaller boundaries it just seemed so much easier to make new friends and make the town a home. I had come through Weed about ten years ago with my mother and brother, but it was just a quick passing through.
I was looking forward to seeing it again and showing it to my husband and step-daughter and seeing the school again. My stay in Weed was magical. Partly because it felt like time travel, but also because I found so much love there.
It was amazing to see Tom Powers and (faculty member) Denis Hagerty. To see old teammates and find that we all cherish the memories of our time at COS. And then the town itself: it was comforting to see that it wasn’t damaged by the fire in a way I couldn’t recognize it.
Coach Powers took me, my husband and his daughter up to the high school and we saw for ourselves where you all had to rebuild. Impressive! And what a beautiful church it’s going to be! It was such a “home coming” feeling to get a Western BBQ Chicken pizza at the Pizza Factory, sandwiches at Ellie’s and (best of all) breakfast at the Hi-Lo. Yes, we’re food tourists. :) And speaking of homecoming – to walk into MY old gym and see other girls playing there! It was a great joy to be able to show my family COS! That too has grown and looks so nice.
In the morning before take off, my husband and I ran the Bear Trail up behind COS. This is going to sound crazy, but the air felt so clean and cool and thick with scent from the pine trees that it was almost palpable. I wished I could bottle it up and take it with me!
I look forward to my next visit, but until then I’ll hold the memories of this time dear. Best Wishes,