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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Letter from Kat’s host mom

The following has been translated by the Instructor Team on behalf of Kat’s host mom, Ibu Suparmi

 

Let me introduce myself, my name is Suparmi, I am 55 years old. My husband is Agus Hartono, he is 56 years old. I have two children, Adibah (25) and Arwana/Awa (24).

The first time I heard that our family would host an American Dragons student, I felt doubtful and unconfident. I was not sure whether I could host our guest well because everyone in our family has their own responsibilities outside our home. We are a new Dragons host family, and this was our first time hosting a guest from abroad, so we didn’t know what to expect or how we would do.

When I learned that our new family member’s name would be Katherine, I felt nervous and excited. But in retrospect, I shouldn’t have worried because over the last three week we have had a lot of fun and interesting times while hosting Kat (that’s what I called her).

During my first week with Kat, I had difficulty communicating with her. Every time I spoke Indonesian with her, she just moved her eyes and said “I am confused.” However she is a very curious person. She always asked a lot of questions and shared stories. One morning, when she got up from bed, she asked me “Ibu (mom), do you like my hair?” (while she was playing with her curly hair). I told her, “I like your hair”, everyone in the house was laughing. In this first week we learned that Kat is just 17 years old, she is very young, but she is already independent, and she always wants to help around the house.

I remember one morning during that first week when Kat was in the kitchen. She asked me about the many different types of ingredients that we had there, and afterwards she said she wanted to make her own drinks. I watched her as she made her own ginger and lemongrass drinks. I was so proud of her, she was able to take care of herself. No wonder, I think this was because she had a part time job in a coffee stall in America. Wow! The next morning, while Kat was helping us with the dishes, she made her own coffee and tea. I was so impressed 🙂 And once in a while she would happily help me with cooking (as I mostly bought food from outside, hehe).

During the second week, I didn’t want to waste my time with Kat. We met every morning and evening. We talked and talked about politics (both in Indonesia and in America), about Kat’s family, and a lot of other things. Her stories made us become closer. Saturday and Sunday are our family days and I invited Kat to join me at my work where we had organise activities for “National Garbage Day”. On this occasion we had many activities such as river cleaning, a talk show about the environment and garbage waste, a village clean up competition, and even a flash mob! I could see that Kat had enjoyed those days. She was a celebrity! Almost everyone that she met wanted to take a selfie with her.

Kat would always tell me about her cooking ISP (Independent Study Project) too. In the morning she would go to the local market and then in the afternoon she would cook alongside her mentor. One evening, Kat brought us some food that she made at her cooking class and said in Bahasa: “Hari ini saya masak lemet dan pisang goreng (today I cooked traditional snacks wrapped in banana leaves and fried banana).” I told her that in my whole life I had never cooked lemet, and I am Indonesian! Kat said ” I am American, and I do cook lemet”. Everyone laughed. And then we all tasted her food.

During our third week, I noticed that Kat was tired. She was busy with the Dragons group. Every time I asked whether she was tired, she answered: “Sedikit (a little bit)”, and then she would laugh afterwards.

For me, Kat is a special person. She is polite, curious, and a fast learner. At our home, Kat is already part of our family, she is my youngest child. Adibah, Awa and my husband always want to invite Kat to eat outside. Last time we went to a Javanese noodle place, then Japanese food, and we even tried Pizza Hut. We also took her to some bookstore here in Jogja too.

In a few days Kat will leave us and I thought, why does time have to go so fast? I had tears in my eyes… I was just getting closer to Kat, and she already had to leave soon.

When there is a meeting, there is always a time to say goodbye. “Sampai jumpa lagi, Kat” (until we meet again).

by Ibu Suparmi (Kat’s host mom), translated by the Instructor Team.