A few days ago our group of seven students and three instructors hastily cleaned and arranged the program house in preparation for our thank you party for our Kunming homestay families. Some of us wielded cleaning supplies while others arranged the furniture…a feast was in store! One by one each of the families arrived. Whether a son (Daniel’s host brother!), a set of grandparents, or a mother and her daughter—families gathered at our communal home (the program house) to bid us farewell. The event provided us with a final opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude to each of the families for opening up their homes to us for the past week and a half and for sharing a new city with us that they call home. Together we enjoyed home cooked meals (a fan favorite was the dish made by Eli’s host mother) and store bought additions like tasty dumplings over laughter and fun-filled, enriching conversation.
Jake’s grandparents shared how wonderful it was to see him engaging with their grandson over an array of topics. Nichos’ mother doted on his meticulous nature, emphasizing how impressed she was by his engaged demeanor (making sure to add how much she would miss him). Lillian’s host mother chatted over food with our homestay coordinator about the possibility of making their next trip abroad be to Seattle—Lillian’s American home. We learned that Ryan enjoyed walks after dinner with her homestay parents, and Spencer visited his host brother’s summer camp over the weekend (whenever his brother would call his mother it was always to speak to Spencer instead!).
Although we were sad to leave behind the lives we created for ourselves in Kunming, each of us felt the growing anticipation for what lay ahead in the upcoming phase of our course.
*Note: We have arrived safely at our rural homestay, and we have very limited internet access here. We hope to post more frequently upon re-entering an internet zone next week! We are loving the slower pace of life, the extra time together as a group, and the amazingly fresh, home-cooked meals!