I was born right in the middle of the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States. The villains in the movies were KGB spies, and athletes from communist countries seemed to be unbeatable in the Olympics. In my eyes, Russians were elusive, superhuman, unattainable, impervious.
I was studying in England when the wall came down in Germany. A friend with whom I was studying in England went to Germany right after the wall came down. He brought me back a piece of that wall, and it is one my favorite possessions, for it represents the world’s opening when the wall came down.
At Wa-Klo, we have been hiring international staff since the late 80’s from the United Kingdom, Poland, Australia; nations that the USA has had great relations. But in the mid to late 90’s, Wa-Klo hired its first Russian for our maintenance staff. His name was Mark. I remember sitting in our iconic green chairs along the waterfront conversing with him. He was Russian yet he was approachable, real, normal, kind, and we had great talks throughout the summer. I told him, “Mark, I never thought this day would come where I could actually talk to someone from Russia much less get to know. To me, this conversation is a miracle.” Since then, we have hired so many wonderful girls from Russia and Ukraine.
At Wa-Klo, we have also had campers from all over the world join us. That’s what Wa-Klo is—people from everywhere finding their way to us, a little corner of the world, in order to become a joyous, functioning family. We are truly a home away from home. Through the years, campers from Venezuela have spent many wonderful summers at Wa-Klo. As these campers have grown, they have sent their children to us and their friends. The legacy from Venezuela has been a deep and rich one.
The world events going on now that affect our friends in Venezuela, Ukraine, and Russia has not gone unnoticed by your Wa-Klo family. Our healing prayers and wish for sober minds are being sent your way to protect you and keep you safe. And we continually hope that you will be able to find your way back to your summer home; we are waiting with open arms and collapsed walls.
The mountain changes every day…