A Home Away From Home At Bayer
A lot of young people yearn for the chance to live far away from home in a foreign country, learn a new language, experience a new culture, but still benefit from a family-like environment. The Bayer Youth Exchange (B.Y.E.) offers children of Bayer employees this opportunity. Magali Cosquer hosted Katalina from Bogota during the summer holidays and shares now her experiences.
A couple of years back, Bayer launched the Bayer Youth Exchange (B.Y.E.) platform where employees around the world can host the child of a Bayer employee or can look for a family to host their children for a couple of weeks. When I read about it on the intranet, I immediately registered on the platform. I took part in the Erasmus program as a student, studied in England and then worked in different parts of the country for eight years. I loved it. It was a great opportunity to study at a university abroad and a cultural enrichment to meet new people, work in different industries, and experience a different way of life.
When Katalina’s parents contacted me last April to ask whether I could host their 15-year-old daughter for three weeks in July, I immediately responded with a big ‘yes’. I was really amazed about Katalina’s courage in traveling to Europe alone for the first time.
Before Katalina came over, we exchanged pictures and messages via What’s App and my two teenagers, Lovena and Donovan, who are 19 and 16, also had some exchange with her. We even sent her a little video for her 15th birthday party in May, and found out that Katalina and Donovan have the same passion for basketball, which they both play in sports clubs. Katalina is fluent in English and is also learning French at school, so the language barrier was not an issue.
In early July, we picked up Katalina from the airport and it was a great joy to have her stay with us. During the day, Donovan took her to visit different places around our area and she enjoyed having the freedom to travel by bus on her own. In Bogota, it is unsafe for a girl to walk around the city or take the bus alone. She also enjoyed visiting the ‘Europa Park’ amusement park in Rust.
We spent a lot of time at dinner chatting about her life in school with her friends and at home. We also found out that we had the same taste in music so we were able to share our music playlists. There were also a lot of films that we all liked. Katalina recommended ‘Caso Colmenares’ on Netfix to us. It’s about a 20-year-old man who was killed and the crime was never solved. It is based on a true story that took place in Bogota a couple of years ago, and I would definitely recommend the film as you get a good insight into the way of life in Colombia.
Having Katalina stay with us was a really great experience for the whole family and we all shed some tears when she left. The house felt empty without her smile and her laugh. Lovena and Donovan get on really well with Katalina and we are still in contact with her via What’s App. This will be a long term relationship and we agree that we will meet soon again in Colombia. Katalina is passionate about history and wants to show us around.
I would certainly repeat the experience and am grateful that this great platform at Bayer gave us the opportunity to get to know Katalina.