Back to WhereThereBeDragons.com

Tiquipaya Homestay: Student Voices

Tiquipaya Homestay – Student Voices

Greg Hays:

To say the least, living with our host families has been a life changing experience. I have spent time in South America before, and have seen the way people live, but never have experienced it. On Day in Tiquipaya, we left the dragons house around noon and spent the remainder of the day and night with out host families. On Day 2, we woke up at 7, and all came to the dragons house to meet. As we all arrived, discussions about the similarities and differences from our lives in Atlanta to our lives in Bolivia ensued. Everyone wanted to talk about their new home, the different foods, the showers, the sleeping arrangements. After sharing, we went to the South American pre-Olympic games with our Spanish teachers. Some of the athletes competing were in the olympics two years ago; one Brazilian sprinter in particular two back-to-back 200m winds. Afterward, we left the games to go eat with our host families for lunch before returning to the dragons house in the afternoon to learn Bolivian cultural traditions. We broke up into three groups: the cooks, musicians, and weavers. The cooks prepared a traditional cheese bread along with pique macho, a dish made with potatoes, beef, chicken, egg, tomatoes, mayo and fries. The musicians learned how to play pre-1492 wind instruments—from Sikus to Tarkas—native to Bolivia. The weavers had the most people and created bracelets using their feet and hands to create a makeshift loom.

At home, our lives tend to become second nature over time, but when we stepped into the homes of the people in Tiquipaya, we immediately discovered the differences in every-day life. Our families took us in without hesitation. We were nervous for the new experience (and still are), but feel more and more comfort in the kindness of our host families. The language barrier has been a struggle, but we are all figuring it out—as Lucy and Sarah point out, the important thing is to TRY. Without a willingness to lean into new experiences, you keep yourself from some pretty interesting things.

Lucy Brumbaugh & Sarah Scothorn:

Chicos e Chicas-

Sarah and Lucy here! We are currently sitting in our homestay bedroom, freshly (hand)washed clothes strewn about us, and our 3-year-old “brother” running around, screaming. But it’s all part of the experience, right? To say this has been eye-opening is an understatement. Although the language barrier is extreme, a Latin II and French III graduate coming at you, learning how to communicate and come to love our new “family” has certainly taught us a few things. For example:

  1. It’s all about the effort- We are NOT fluent Spanish speakers at all, but we are trying, and our Dona can tell. Whether it’s pretending to be a cow at the lunch table to figure out what you are eating, or acting out that we are best friends when you can’t figure out how to say it. If you put in the effort, they will reciprocate it.
  2. Things are different here and that is ok- We ate bread with a side of hot oat water for 2 meals in a row, that may not be what you think of as a typical meal, but that’s how things work down here. We are slowly learning that what we have here is different than what we have at home, and to love and appreciate both.
  3. It is ok to be uncomfortable- Like we mentioned before, communication is hard. We are currently writing this unsure of whether or not we are supposed to be at dinner. It is uncomfortable not knowing what to say and not knowing what is being said to us. Eating new foods is uncomfortable, but trying the unknown can lead to a world of discovery. For example, Sarah has discovered a love of papaya, a fruit she had never previously enjoyed.
  4. Pay attention to your surroundings- You would think without our phones this wouldn’t be a problem, but it is still easy to get caught up in a conversation, or distracted by a bug that you don’t take in what is going on around you. When we took a taxi from the Dragon’s house to our homestay house, we were told specifically several times to pay attention to where we were going by Itza so we could find our way back. Surprise surprise, guess who didn’t? The next morning, when we walked with Edwin, our oldest homestay brother, we made sure to soak in our surroundings, finding many check points along the way to make sure we were headed in the right direction (a road that reminded Sarah of her house in the mountains and yellow flowers that make Lucy very happy!) Not getting caught up in moment-to-moment life can be difficult, but it is worth it in the long run.

Basically what we are saying is we are having fun. From learning how to to be away from home for 2 weeks in a country where neither of us speak the language to being able to attend the pre-Olympic games here in South America, we are stepping outside of our comfort zones and really pushing our limits, but having a great time while doing it! Although being away from home is hard, we are gaining new perspectives we could have never experienced in Atlanta.

Ciao for now,

Sarah and Lucy