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A Trip Without Their Truck

By on September 1, 2016

TB-2Caffees Visit Trucker Buddy Classes in France

Four years ago, when 2014 Citizen Driver Honorees Bob and Linda Caffee agreed to connect with three Trucker Buddy International classes at College Chateaubriand (a middle school) in Saint-Malo, France, little did they know how deep and how lasting that connection would become. In May of this year, they found out firsthand when they visited the sponsoring teacher of English, her family and 120 of her 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

Saint-Malo is a walled port city in northwestern France on the English Channel. With the suburbs included, the population of approximately 153,000 typically increases to 200,000 during the summer tourist season. The city’s roots can be traced back to its founding by the Gauls in the first century B.C. Saint-Malo’s rich and proud history is filled with adventure, intrigue and heartbreak. After heavy allied bombing almost destroyed the city during WWII, it was rebuilt over a 12-year period from 1948-60.

Cultural Close-up

During their five-day stay, the Caffees were guests of the host teacher, Stephanie Derrien-Zuizarth, her husband, Fred, and their two children. After spending a relaxing and enjoyable weekend with their hosts, touring the city and becoming acclimated to the environment, Bob and Linda participated in a different field trip with each class on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Destinations included Fort National, a tidal city a few hundred yards out to sea, Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands between France and England, and Mont Saint-Michel, a very unique and picturesque 240-acre island about .6-mile out to sea. On Monday evening, the school held an open house and reception honoring the Caffees and their dedication. The food was fantastic, and the room was decorated with projects, postcards and drawings exchanged over the prior three years.

During the trip to Fort National, a TV news crew accompanied the class. They interviewed the students and the Caffees for a segment that aired on the evening news. A newspaper covered the reception. Students from the Caffee’s first class, now 9th graders, also stopped by to meet the Caffees, share some stories and offer thanks for the contributions made to learning the English language.

Overwhelmingly Positive

While the school administration supported the affiliation with Trucker Buddy International, some of the parents were more reluctant. They wanted to know who the Caffees are, are they using their real names, why are they doing this, and are the kids safe in their presence? Nothing breaks down barriers and clarifies the situation like a personal visit with ample time to interact. By the end of the three days, the parents and students developed a much deeper understanding of Trucker Buddy International, the Caffees, their motives and their commitment.

“On all of the field trips, the students were well behaved, inquisitive and eager to learn,” said Linda. “The daily field trips gave us a chance to visit with the children, answer their questions, and they in turn, told us more about themselves, their city and their country. The faculty, students and parents overwhelmed us with their generosity and kindness. We also realize how much our little stories, pictures, videos and postcards mean to the teachers and their students. We returned home with renewed vigor to do even more.

“It was the trip of a lifetime, and something Bob and I will never forget, and we hope as these students grow up, they will look back on their USA Trucker Buddies with fondness. Over the years, we have found Trucker Buddy International is just as rewarding for us as it is for the students.”

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation and/or learn more about becoming a Trucker Buddy for a U.S. or international class, visit TruckerBuddy.org or call 800MYBUDDY (800.692.8339).

You can also access valuable advice, learn more about PROs Bob and Linda Caffee, and follow them by clicking on their page at TeamRunSmart.com.

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