Former exchange student brings host family to France

Doug and Sirina Cassidy hosted former French exchange student Wandrille “Vindy” Peltier 20 years ago, but for 10 days last month, Peltier hosted them.

Peltier worked with the Cassidys’ two sons to surprise Doug and Sirina with plane tickets to visit him in France as a Christmas gift/birthday present for Sirina. They left on June 13 and returned on June 25.

“My oldest son, Jeffery, had to go behind [Sirina’s] back to find out how many vacation days she had, and how many sick days, so it was a total surprise when we got those tickets,” Doug said.

Doug said he almost didn’t go because he had just taken over Bishopp’s Appliances in January following the death of his uncle, Dick Bishopp.

“In January, my uncle passed away, who owned our store, so I took over and had to do more and more, so I said ‘I can’t go, I got all this to do,’ and finally my aunt, who still does all this bookwork, is actually the one who told me I was going,” he said. “It was only ten days, and they did a good job. Kept the store running.”

Doug’s aunt worked for Youth for Understanding (YFU), which offered a student exchange program. He said she was the one who convinced him and his wife to host Peltier.

Sirina said they agreed to board him because initially Peltier didn’t have a home to stay at as he was coming over.

“If people have the opportunity to host an exchange student, do it,” Sirina said. “Because he came, and we really weren’t expecting him. He was coming and he had no home to go to. So we decided to help Aunt Becky out. She asked if we would help out and put him up for a bit, and we ended up keeping him. And now look where we’re at.”

It was the second time the Cassidys saw Peltier in-person since they hosted him, but the first time they’d gone to France to visit. In fact, it was the first time they’d been overseas.

Sirina said she cried when she found out about the tickets.

“That’s was a bucket list of mine to be able to go to their home and visit, so when I got the surprise of the plane tickets it was very overwhelming and unbelievable that his family would do that for us,” she said.

The Cassidys hadn’t seen Peltier in nearly ten years.

“When we got through the airport and we got to where we were able to see him, I was scanning everywhere, and he’d seen us, and he was jumping up and down and waving, and I was like ‘There he is, there he is, there he is!’” Sirina said. “So me and him, we kind of took off running and jumped into each other’s arms.”

Sirina said Peltier embraced her before Doug, because she was closer to Peltier when he lived with them.

“Me and him had a very close relationship when he was here,” Sirina said. “We stayed up many nights, ‘til 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning talking about things. We would talk about religion, we would talk about politics, we would just talk about everyday living. We were able to communicate more and talk more on a conversational level.”

Sirina said on this trip they talked about how the roles were reversed – but they didn’t stay up all night talking like they did 20 years ago.

“When he was here, he wasn’t used to what Americans did – when we’re in France, we’re not used to what they do,” Sirina said. “So we would ask a question and the conversation would just go.”

The Cassidys stayed with Peltier, in his three bedroom townhouse in Louviere, a town west of Paris, with his wife and two kids. The town is similar in population to Shelbyville.

The Cassidys always considered Peltier and his family as their own family, which makes Peltier’s kids, William (4 years old) and Sam (19 months), the Cassidys’ grandchildren.

“We’re a