How does one define family? To be honest, I am not even sure how I define family. For me, my family is a decent size. I have many families – not just one.
I have my biological family who has been there since the beginning, the ones who held my hand or gave me a hug or cuddle when needed. This family loves me unconditionally. Then I have my school family, the girls and boys I live with during the school year. This family is a core group of eleven unique, inspiring, incredible people who want the best for everyone. I have my other family who I do not get to see very often, but no matter what, will always be there and will drop absolutely everything for each other. This is a very small family made up of a few people my age. With every experience, I create a new family.
On June 28th, 2019 I met my Dragons family. We are immersing ourselves in an unfamiliar culture allowing each other to grow through experiences. For this family I am forever grateful. However, I never thought I would feel a true sense of family in a community welcoming me into their home within one day. This family is and will always be my Cambodian family. They have fed me insane amounts of food, shared lots of laughs with me, and brushed my hair while I journaled. They listen to my broken Khmer and I help them with their broken English. We offer each other gentle smiles, hugs, and high fives. I truely have been blessed with a family.
I was anxious before I came here. I was anxious about being lonely, homesick and communicating with my Cambodian family – but I do not feel that now. I feel at peace and surrounded by warm hearts who care in family who wants the best for each person within it, not only their family, but also their neighbors, and the community as a whole.
So to answer my own question: to me family is a feeling of belonging regardless of differences, a feeling of comfort in a new space and a feeling of open arms wanting to greet you.