My sister-in-law "Candice" called me up and asked me if I could give her foreign exchange student "Lars" an airplane ride. I told her that I would be able to make that sacrifice, and made the arrangements.
Now, some backstory is in order. This young man has been with a family since September of 2008, and apparently they are now going through a divorce and the environment Lars was in deteriorated significantly, until he actually started showing signs of depression. When Candice went to pick up Lars from his family (and get all his stuff) she said there were dirty dishes stacked almost to the ceiling, and dog hair and filth everywhere.
So, Candice had agreed to take the boy for the rest of the school year. Unfortunately, Lars was with another foreign exchange student who into some trouble, and he became collatoral damage. The organization that runs the foreign exchange decreed that Lars was to be sent home. In my mind Lars has been dealt a crappy deal, seeing as how much money these kids' families have to pony up for the experience.
So I decided that I would use this opportunity to give Lars a fun experience to temper the bad experience he had with his first dysfunctional host family.
First of all, Lars is a great kid, thanking me for the opportunity and joking around. On the drive to the airport I quickly briefed Lars and Candice on the what they needed to know about the flight.
Besides the overcast, the weather was good for flying and things went very well. After I configured for cruise, I gave Lars the controls and let him fly almost the whole time. He very naturally was able to hold course and altitude (flying right seat even!) and kept saying he couldn't believe he was flying a plane. He had a grin on his face almost the whole time and seemed to genuinely be having a great time. Candice took video and pictures which I burned onto a CD for him to take home.
I really hope when he thinks about his time in the US, that things like this stick out in his mind, and not the filthy hole he was trapped in for months on end. I present for your enjoyment a video and some pictures: