EDITOR’S NOTE: She Says is a personal commentary by women truck drivers. This week’s is by Linda Caffee, who drives with her husband Bob. The two started their driving careers after their children left home for college in 2000. Bob started as a driver for a large motor carrier with Linda as a rider. They decided to enter the expedite industry as team drivers in 2005, and today are members of Freightliner’s Team Run Smart. They are part of Trucker Buddy International and in May visited school children they have corresponded with in France.
After three years of weekly emails or postcards to our Trucker Buddy International (TBI) classes in Saint-Malo, France we decided it was time to visit. First I emailed our teacher, Stephanie, to get her thoughts and I think I heard “YES” clear across the pond. We were over a year away from the proposed dates and a lot of effort was made by the school to make this a visit none would forget. After the highlight of meeting the students and staff, we would go on field trips with the students, and meet their parents.
English teacher, Stephanie read about the program and then after several meetings got approval to launch TBI. There was some reluctance from parents as well as school staff about corresponding with American truck drivers. Once they received our letter of introduction as well as postcards they realized the possibilities.
Stephanie has about 120 students in sixth through eighth grades and she also shares my emails with other teachers. Our correspondence is used to convert mileage and fuel mileage, learn about geography and our history in a fun and educational way. In return we have been on many video tours of the school as well as visiting classrooms.
The students were not told until the last minute about our visit and their assignment was to create brochures of where we could stay and some activities. Taking into consideration English speaking and Wi-Fi … those students do know me. When we arrived at the school with our teacher we were mobbed in the parking lot by excited students to finally meet “Bob & Linda”. We found out quickly they speak French fast, but with their facial expressions we could follow the conversation. We went on field trips for three days with each grade teaching us French words, asking about the United States, and them telling us about their country. For those that wonder, we do not speak French.
We have had classes in the United States and have experienced the same level of joy when students get to meet “their” Trucker Buddies and these students were no different. What was amazing was all of the school staff from the cleaners to the principal were excited to see us and to say “Thank You” for all we have done. The realization of how we are impacted these students happened when we saw the English classroom; post cards, trinkets, and pictures we have sent lining the walls.
Through TBI we are changing the perceptions of students, parents, and the school faculty about American truck drivers. Without TBI we would have never experienced this adventure of a lifetime or met our many friends in France. TBI far exceeded our expectations.
To become involved with Trucker Buddy International visit their web site.