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Homestay Lessons

Last night I walked into my homestay bedroom and saw exactly what I was afraid of seeing: a massive spider on the wall right next to my bed. This was the largest spider I have ever seen in my life, and the night before this one it had stationed itself on the wall opposite my bed. I had stared at the spider for a solid twenty minutes wondering if I should kill it, tell my host mom, or just tough it out. I ended up just going to sleep, with the blankets tightly wound around myself, and hoping that I would never see the spider again. And here I was staring at it. But this time my lovely host mom was with me and I managed to say in chinese, “that’s really big!” while pointing to the spider. She laughed, walked up to the spider, shaped her hand into a fist, and gave it a big thump. As she grabbed the thing and chucked it out of the room, she taught me the Tibetan word for spider. It sounds something like “karsh’no” but I don’t know how to write it in Tibetan.

Throughout this homestay I have learned many new things, and in a completely different way than during our time in Chengdu. During every meal my homestay mom would point to things in her kitchen, such as kitchen wear, food items, and sometimes the chickens, cows, and pigs that would wander in, and she would give me the Tibetan words for them. I would furiously scribble down my made up spellings for these words in my notebook, including things like “na yhak” and “tzar tzou” and hope I would remember the pronunciation. Each meal was always five or more plates of steaming food just for the two of us, and when my stomach was about to burst I would still get begged to “eat eat eat!” These peoples’ overwhelming kindness and passion for giving made me think about the way I understand happiness. In material possessions they had very little, but they were always happy and ready to give. I sometimes get caught up obsessing about what material things I have and what I don’t, and this was an important reality check. These incredible people and their beautiful lifestyle is proof that a supportive community could be all you need to be happy.