SabbaticalHomes.com is proud to feature our latest notable member, University of London professor Pat Caplan. Pat has been a member of SabbaticalHomes.com for over 10 years. Recently Pat and her family hosted a refugee from the Middle East through an organization called CARA, the Council for At-risk Academics. CARA partners with universities and other institutions around the world to help scholars and their families leave war-torn and violent countries so that they can continue to study in safety. For more information and for ways you can help, check out http://www.cara.ngo/. To read more about Pat’s experience using SabbaticalHomes.com, keep reading below.
Can you talk about your experience with CARA and the young man you hosted through them?
Two years ago, at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe, we decided to offer the flat to someone sponsored by CARA, the Council for At-risk Academics. They sent us a doctor from a war-torn Middle Eastern country who stayed for over 2 years, during which time we became very close friends. During that period, we not only learned a great deal about the situation in his country but also about the very difficult route of obtaining asylum and rebuilding a life. Finally, his family was able to join him and they moved to another flat near to the hospital where he now works.
How did you hear about SabbtaticalHomes.com initially?
I first heard about the site through a long-standing friend and colleague who teaches in the US and who mentioned that when she came to London she always used SH. That was over 10 years ago, and we have now had about 10 sets of guests – couples or singles. We have had closer relations with some than others, but none has been a disaster. It’s usually not difficult to work out whether they are looking for friendship or not, but we try to keep communication open and invite tenants for meals from time to time.
Can you talk about some of your favorite experiences and people you’ve met through the site?
A Canadian couple doing their masters degrees. They were working very hard and we didn’t see much of them, but one day he came out into the garden for some fresh air. He asked me what needed doing and I mentioned a tree which had died, saying I intended to get a tree surgeon. ‘Have you got a chain saw?’ Yes. Give it to me. I fetched it and watched him take down the tree in about 5 minutes – zip zip zip. He was from northern Canada and had been brought up doing such things.
An Italian scholar who came for 4 summers in a row for her research in London. We became close friends and my husband helped her improve her English by getting her to talk about her research on early Italian poetry, about which he became quite an expert!
Our first young couple who stayed for 18 months, went off to jobs abroad but visited us every Christmas. They are just now coming back to work here, bringing along their baby!
Pat’s stories about the people she’s met and relationships she’s formed are the reason why we started SabbaticalHomes.com in the first place. This truly is a community of members, where people can share similar interests or explore new ones, all with like-minded and open-hearted people. We so love to hear about stories like this and appreciate all the people that make our community as great as it is. Do you have a story you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below or shoot Nadege an email through SabbaticalHomes.com
Related: Home Exchange Tips from TransitionsAbroad.com