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Namaste and Jullay!

As you all know, homestays will be a big portion of our course and it would be really appreciated if you bring small gifts for your both homestay families, both in Ladakh and in Varanasi. We encourage you NOT to spend lots of money on your gift–that is totally unnecessary! Here are some ideas of gifts that we recommend. We encourage you to think of these gifts as an opportunity to build connections with your host family, and share a little about who you are and where you come from. The best gifts are great conversation starters; they shouldn’t be expensive, but rather something meaningful that represents you.

Here are some ideas:

  • Photos of you, your family, and places that are important to you. You might also consider bringing photos of places such as your home, your school, your pets, or even your hometown. These can be gifts if you like, but also helpful just to show your family and for them to get to know you better. (But please, no photos with swimming suit or alcohol)
  • If you do any visual arts, you could bring a small painting/sketch/carving for your family.
  • If you like cooking, you could bring a small bottle of maple syrup and some pancake mix and cook for your family, or some other spices/ingredients you like.
  • Something unique to your state or hometown. Examples could be a craft sold at your local farmer’s market, a small state flag, posters of a famous place in your state, or stickers that you can explain the significance of.
  • Postcards where you translate the description into the local language the best you can. It gives families a chance to teach you some new language points and ask you questions.
  • 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.
  • Music! If your family enjoys singing or playing music, learn a song with them and teach them a song. Make a short video or print the lyrics with a photo of you all singing for them. Music is a universal language! If you bring a thumb drive with music on it, you can play it for your family.
  • A collection of small posters of something you enjoy (like if you love visiting national parks, you could give posters of the parks you’ve been to).
  • Any other fun small items that start a conversation between you and your host family and represent something special and unique about you!
  • Hat Or t-Shirt from your home town.

Note: Photos are always special and often a great parting gift as well. Whether you choose to give families photos or not, it’s a great idea to bring some to show them your daily life.

Of course you can also buy things in India to give to your home-stay families – there are lots of things that are available locally that families would really enjoy. If you bring things from home, the only request we have is please don’t bring anything too big or heavy.

If you are not sure whether your gifts are appropriate, please feel free to contact us, either by email or by posting on the Yak board so that others can see your questions too.

Happy packing and see you soon!

Namaste and thank you,

India Dream Team: Saurabh, Nick & MJ