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Homestay Gift Ideas!

Hi everyone! It’s hard to believe that we are only three weeks away from gathering in Los Angeles. We are counting down the days! Now is the time to post and tell us a little bit more about yourself- we are itching to get to know you better. Gong and Shuier are currently en route to our Orientation in the High Sierras of California. Noam and I will be headed that way very soon!

This Yak is about homestay gifts. A homestay in our program might range from staying together in dorm rooms at a small family guesthouse to living separately with families spread around a small village. Homestays are about sharing moments, laughing through awkwardness, and immersing into a lifestyle that is different than your own. They’re about so much more than we can write here, which is why we do them; you’ll discover the reasons for yourself!

In China, it’s customary with many peoples to give gifts. This is a great opportunity to show appreciation for the hospitality we receive and to demonstrate the gratitude we may not always be able to express. However, it’s not easy to think of any object that can express your appreciation to the people who will shelter you, cook for you, protect you, and learn with you. No object really can do this. However, here are some ideas for gift giving that we’ve accumulated through the years:

  • Printed out photos of you and your family.
  • A map. It can be a great way to connect over your own location, as well as theirs.
  • A local food specialty such as hot sauce, jam, or sweets. This is great because you can enjoy it together and watch their reactions.  Make sure you choose something that travels well in all weather.If you like cooking, you could bring a small bottle of maple syrup and some pancake mix and cook for your family.
  • A coloring book and crayons or colored pencils. While it is not guaranteed that your homestay family will have children, there are often local children who will want to play with you! This is a great interactive activity. Stickers work well, too!
  • Small puzzles of famous places in your state that you could do together.
  • A sketch of your homestay house or family, or even your favorite spot in the community.

It’s not the price that is meaningful but the intention you put into choosing something and the gratitude and respect you demonstrate when you give it. We would recommend avoiding gifts that can only really be used by / useful for one person (eg. a t-shirt), and instead try to focus on small gifts that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The best homestay gifts are from the heart. Happy creating!

Grace, Gong, Shuier, and Noam