I have been thinking about how time flies…the homestay went so quick. Today I thought back to the first day; the students all arrived and I felt nervous about how they would fit into a completely new and different culture. My I-team and I went around the houses to check in with all the students – “did they know where to find the bathroom? Where they can find water? Had they been told where they will sleep?” We also checked in on their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Today is the last day of the homestay. A week went so fast and I am looking back and telling myself “I should be proud of this!” I am so happy to have seen how the students have learnt and adapted to a new culture and were able to connect with their families despite the language barriers.
We had a party on the last day of our stay. My mum and the villagers were very busy all day helping to prepare food. The students helped cut vegetables for their last dinner with their host mum and dad. Almost all of them made a thank you note, which I translated. We had a big speakers and a nice decorated roof – it looked almost like a traditional Khmer wedding.
In my village, we like sharing with each other. We like to chill at each other’s houses. We like to help each other. And everyone knows everyone. We have a lovely tiny community.
The students invited their host mum or dad to the table for dinner. By that time Fiona’s grandmother had already cried twice as she didn’t want to think about the goodbye tomorrow. I sat there, observed and smiled – it means so much to the students and families, connecting even though they come from a different culture and nation.
It does not matter where we are from, we all have a sense of humanity and we all have what we call” love” to share and to give. I believe because of that, the homestay went so well.
When the eating was finished, all the mums and dads watched their ‘kid’ dance; they had so much fun dancing with the local children. It is amazing how just a “smile” can communicate so much even when you don’t share language.
On the morning of the 22nd July, we were leaving the island to depart for the next destination. Today the students led portion of the course start. I felt a bit frustrated as they negotiated in broken Khmer with the bus driver, but I believe they can do it.
It was difficult to see many of the host mums cry when their ‘kids’ said goodbye. Fiona’s grandmother cried a lot, she followed us to the port to say goodbye a final time. Flora received a letter from her mum and dad in Khmer, it was very touching. When I translated it for her I almost cried because of how much love and care they put into the words. Izzy’s mum, grandmother, sister, and aunt all cried when saying goodbye to her.
This was a very special experience for the host families as it is the first time they have lived with American and Swiss students in this way.
My rose of the day is finishing the homestay successfully and seeing the international love keep growing – my tiny village will be shared with the other side of the world. How beautiful, kind, loving and community based it always is will be shared.