Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gaining a new family

It is very easy, in these posts, to spend all my time pointing out all the things that are new or strange or different in Sāmoa or giving you a run down of our activities. But I wanted to make sure that conveyed the appreciation I have for our host family.

There are times that their actions totally baffle me and times that I just wish everyone would disappear and leave me alone, but there are also times that I love them dearly and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Strangely enough, I feel the same way about my own family back in the states too.

Our host family has taken two complete strangers (from another country, who don’t speak the language) into their lives completely. They welcomed us with open arms. They gave us the best “room in the house,” which is usually reserved for family from New Zealand. They feed us, they do our laundry, they help us with our homework. They are wonderful.

Sometimes it can feel strange to live and interact on such an intimate level with a family you have only known for a couple of weeks, but I am sure it is just as strange for them. Yet I have never seen them complain or become angry about this intrusion into their lives. When we left the village after the previous two-week stint, our host mom was in tears at our departure. She is an extremely caring and outgoing women and I have no words for how much I appreciate her taking us in as her own children.

The Peace Corps practice of putting trainees into host family homes is a good one. Not only does it help you integrate into the culture, but it also gives you a home base of sorts in a foreign country. Particularly for the single volunteers, they now have a family in country. They have a place to go — if they choose — for holidays and other events. Cale and I are a little different, since we brought our ready-made family with us. However, it is still comforting to know that come Christmas time, if wanted to have the experience of family around us for the holidays we could always head home to our training village and our host family would be happy to see us.

— Sara


Barb Carusillo said...

Your host family does sound wonderful, and it is a blessing to get to have a second family that way. Does your host parents speak or read any English? I would like to send them a letter of thanks. Maybe I can draw pictures? I certainly can't do Samoan, though maybe I can look up a word or two.

Cale and Sara join the Peace Corps said...

Most of the family speaks English pretty well actually. If you send a letter to Cale and I, we can pass it on to the family. I wouldn't recommend looking up Samoan words as there isn't actually a reliable Samoan-English dictionary and you might end up with strange archaic words.