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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Family night

The other night, I was rolling on the floor of my host family’s porch playing gymnastics games with my host sister, Boah. At one point we were resting and my host mom pulled an ant out of my hair. She proceeded to say something about my hair to the other adults on the room, holding all of it in her hands all the while. Before I knew it, she was combing out my knots with a comb– I sitting on the floor and she on a table.

I can’t remember the last time someone combed my hair for me and it was amazing, though mildly painful. She motioned that I should grow it out longer and I quickly scampered upstairs to grab my photo albums to show her that my hair had been long. Soon enough, we were going through all of the pictures. I wondered what she was thinking as she took a glimpse at my shiny family and into my shiny life. She clearly loved the pictures, though, because she was soon pointing at which ones she would like to have. I gave her a picture of my parents and me at my graduation, of me and my sister, and of my dad and me. My host mom was so touched by these gifts and I was so touched that she loved them.

Later that night, as I was reaching into my huge pack, I noticed that there were ants, everywhere. My host family drew close to see what there was and soon all three of them were helping me to unload the contents of my pack onto the floor. The walnuts that I had taken from my homestay in China, we discovered, were attracting the ants. I promptly threw them out while my host dad cleaned my pack and my host mom and sister helped kill the ants that had infiltrated all my belongings. Their devotion to me was almost shocking– all three of them on the floor of my room with me staying up late into the night to help me.

Oh and did I mention that they have given me their bed to sleep on? It happens to be the only bed in the house. I love them and will be sad to leave in just a few days.