It’s just past dinner in Tweisi– shadows of sandstone columns are stretching up towards the sky, hints of stars appearing above — and our group is doing well.
This is our second evening with home-stay families and everyone is settling into their own routine:
- Jana has become best friends with the youngest sister in her family, crafting bracelets to celebrate
- Yassmine is now a part of the family — using her Arabic to participate in the daily gossip and share in family news
- Kayla has set a new world record for ‘Tic Tac Toe’ games played in one afternoon, and has become fast friends with her home-stay sisters who are also teaching her some useful Arabic words
- Lucheyla and her home-stay parents have an on-going language exchange, as her host Dad prompts both she and her home-stay mother for different words in Arabic and English
- Jake is still mastering the art of accepting / politely rejecting food, and continues to waffle between being under and overfed. Inshallah he’ll find the right caloric balance tonight.
- Jamie has become the talk of the town, as several families reported seeing him walk the entire circumference of Tweisi with his home-stay brothers. Chess, tea, repeat to relax.
- Ned assures his family that he is mabsoot (good), while drinking tea, hanging with his three home-stay brothers and reading Dune
- Mr. Emmott has been recruited into the family business, and as far as we know, he’s spent the afternoon exploring the desert with his newfound ‘co-workers’
- Elley and Cate have enjoyed catching up with Khawla and visiting everyone in their adopted homes– although seven cups of tea doesn’t make for very restful sleep
Today, we had an opportunity to collect as a group, review some basic Arabic phrases and debrief our initial home-stay experiences. We reflected on cultural differences in the use of space, the passage of time and different gender dynamics within the home. Most notably, several students remarked on the challenge of embracing ‘unstructured time’, reflecting that their only ‘unstructured time’ back home is “after 10:30pm, in the bathroom, in the shower… or in study hall, depending on your approach to study hall…” Life at Milton can be busy, and we all left tonight with a renewed commitment to embrace this unusual opportunity to slow down and be present, exactly as we are.
I haven’t had my camera out very much, but here are a few highlights from the day. Jake’s home-stay brothers were particularly proud of his new ‘Saudi-style garb’; I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Wishing you all the best from Tweisi,
Cate, Elley & Co