Forever Friends: a 50th Birthday to Remember

In 1987, Jana’s family in small-town Kentucky hosted Lise, an EF exchange student from Denmark. Here they are in high school – big '80s hair and all – enjoying a school dance. The girls didn’t know it then, but they’d form a bond that would last decades.

Lise has stayed in touch with her Kentucky host family and still affectionately refers to her host parents as "mom and daddy." Jana and Lisa communicate regularly and call each other their "forever friends."

Last summer, both women celebrated their 50th birthdays! And what’s even better – they're only five days apart! Like the forever friends they are, they decided to celebrate together.

Lise and her family from Denmark met up with Jana and her family in Nashville, Tennessee where they passed the time telling stories, eating great food and learning more about each family’s cultures.


Jana told us, "It was so amazing getting to see each other again and meet each other’s children! It was the first time our kids have seen each other, and it was like we had all always been together. It was just an amazing visit." With their kids now in touch, they’re sure to have many more international celebrations. Jana’s kids are hoping to visit Denmark someday and have their own cultural exchange experience!

Jana reflects on the relationships that exchange has brought into her life. She says, "It has been wonderful. Lise and I were just talking about how thankful we were for EF bringing us together all those years ago. I am so thankful for EF and the exchange program for giving me a forever friend!"

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© EF Education First 2011-2022. EF High School Exchange Year is operated by EF Educational Foundation for Foreign Study, a non-profit corporation designated by the U.S. Department of State to operate a J-1 student exchange program. Note: Featured photo/videos do not include prospective students, and are representative of program participants.