Holcomb & Farnell Foreign Study Fund

People can be very different from you, but they can still be good people. That lesson learned as a foreign exchange student has shaped my life. And was my German family different? The parents were a generation younger than mine. Instead of two quiet older brothers, I suddenly had three, and later four, very lively younger siblings. The child from a factory worker’s family was part of a dentist’s family. Generous host parents, Udo and Gudrun Eggert, invited me for a few weeks in the summer of 1972, kept me for more than a year, and made me part of their family forever. 

Of course, many things have shaped my life, starting with my loving parents, Olive and Dorman Holcomb. They made sure my brothers and I went to school and church and were taken on many camping trips.  “We’re not lost, we’re exploring” became a family motto. Living in Germany, which has excellent public transportation, I learned to explore without adults. My friend Eva and I ventured to  Berlin on our own. Marriage to Fred Farnell and the opportunity to live with him in Texas, California, Ohio, and Japan as an Air Force spouse has also given us lots of opportunities for “exploring.”  

Sharon & Fred Holcomb, 1995
Sharon & Fred Holcomb, 1995

I’m a firm believer in public schools and a firm believer in travel. I was fortunate to attend excellent public schools in Vancouver, Washington, and Germany. A “field trip” with my new classmates from the Theodore Mommsen Schule In Bad Oldesloe meant several days in Paris. Later I taught in excellent public schools in Nishihara, Okinawa, Japan and San Antonio, Texas. Every child deserves a solid education enriched by positive experiences.  

The children in our lives also shape us. For me, they include big brothers Dorman and Ward Holcomb and the little German children who became my brothers and sisters, Arne, Ariane, Ole, and Phil Eggert. Most of all, Fred and I have been blessed by our children, Matthew, Patrick, and Ariane Farnell. 

As Fred and I tried to decide what legacy we wanted to leave behind, giving young people the opportunity to travel and study abroad seemed fundamental. The lesson is that people can be very different from you and still be good people who can shape lives and help bring peace to our world.

Our wish is that this gift does just that for years to come.


Sharon Holcomb