The highlight of this summer was my experience with my host family. I wish I could have stayed longer!
I have to admit, I was apprehensive about going on a homestay weekend. I’m a rather shy person by nature, so meeting new people can be quite stressful. However, when I was introduced to my host family my mind was immediately put at ease, because they had two children! I was lucky enough to have a 6 year old “little sister” and an 8 year old “little brother” for the next day and a half. It only got better from there—we immediately left to pick up a 10 year Japanese exchange student who would be staying with us.
My host family called our house a little United Nations, and I suppose that’s what we were. I don’t speak any Japanese, and our Japanese exchange student speaks neither Chinese nor English, while the host family speaks only bits of Japanese and English, so we had an interesting weekend where everyone constantly learned new words in as many as four languages: Chinese, Japanese, English, and Taiwanese.
I spent most of my time with the kids, calling them my teachers. They taught me how to play new board games (and beat me at them), taught me new words, and corrected my pronunciation. I also read books to the young girl Lulu, and together the kids and I made homemade dumplings.
The next day my family and I visited 赤崁樓 (Chihkan Tower) an old Dutch outpost originally built in the 17th century, and rebuilt in the 19th century after it was destroyed. We also went to the largest night market in Tainan, 花園夜市 (Hua Yuan Night Market).
What made the weekend so wonderful was how comfortably we all got along and how generous the family was. My host mother was incredibly easy to talk to, and the kids were not shy at all. Talking to the family showed me how much Chinese I’ve learned this summer—several of our conversations used vocabulary that I had learned over the previous few weeks. It also reminded me why I started learning Chinese in the first place, to communicate and connect with people who I would not otherwise have the chance to connect with. I am so grateful to my host family for the time they spent with me and the yummy food they loaded me with while I was there.
By: Tiffany Barron
Term: Summer 2018