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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

Homestay life with my Bolivian Grandma

Hola familias estadounidenses!
My fellow Dragons and I are currently in Tiquipaya getting settled into life with our Bolivian Homestay families. We met our families for the first time on Monday evening, and have been living in their homes as their children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, cousins, etc. since. We all have very unique home situations and stories to tell, but as I’m on Yak duty for the day, I’ll share an experience from my life with mi abuela (grandma), Dona Cirila.
Dona Cirila and I get along very well– I mean how could we not: She’s a very sweet older woman that cooks me way too much food and tucked me into bed on my first night when I wasn’t feeling well. However, one small challenge we have faced is not always being able to understand/communicate with each other 100% of the time because her Spanish is a bit of a Spanish-Quecha (the indigenous language of this area) combination, and I am unfortunately not fluent in either. However, on Tuesday night I discovered our very own form of communication and connection that was completely clear: song, dance and laughter. Let me explain: after dinner, the two of us were sitting on the couch struggling to make both her phone and TV work (she has the technology skills you may expect from a sweet old Grandma with less than perfect eyesight). When we finally managed this feat, she wasted no time in showing me what she likes to watch: music videos de danzas, AKA upbeat Christian Latino pop groups performing at giant concerts with thousands of singing, dancing and often crying (because they are so extremely moved) fans. So what else could we do but sing and dance right along with them….just my Bolivian g-ma and me. It was a moment I’ll never forget (or I guess I should say, it was a full 2 hours that I’ll never forget).