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Ubuntu: my first South African host-family stay!

Living with this family has been truly incredible. I’ve never met such open and caring people in my life. My Gogo took me into her home like I was her own and treats me as if I were. My host sister is 23-years-old like me and also an only child, so it was really neat to see how someone with a somewhat similar background lived like in another culture.

My host siblings gave me my first exposure to little kids. I still am working out the kinks, but I think I understand how to at least play with kids now (when in doubt, tickle and chase them!)

I still can’t fathom this experience I’ve had here in South Africa happening in America. If a South African were to come and stay at an American home in America, would it be the same? I know if someone were to stay at my home they would be more like roommates than family members because that’s just how my family operates (meaning you can get away without talking to anyone/being in your own world for a day). I know it would be different in every situation, but most of my fellow PCTs have had a similar experience to me — that they have been integrated into their host families, feel at home and don’t think it’s just a house to sleep at.

I’ll really miss this family, but I want to try to come back and visit because I would absolutely love to see the little ones grow up. In two years, my 6-year-old host brother will be speaking more English, my little 4-year-old host brother will be in primary school, my 1-year-old host sister will be talking and my 23-year-old host sister could be closer to getting married to her boyfriend! It’s amazing how much has changed since I moved here in mid-July; just within a month my 1-year-old host sister went from walking and falling to being able to run around and keep her balance. Kids really grow up fast!

My family practices Ubuntu because to them, I am just another person that they can talk to and befriend. I am different because I am an American, but when it really comes down to it, I’m just another person. Maybe I wasn’t able to have that many conversations with my Gogo because of the language barrier, but only a couple of sentences and many laughs is what shows you that no matter what culture a person comes from, we are all people and share a common humanity. Just being in the presence of another human is what makes us all who we are.

Last Sunday, Peace Corps South Africa hosted an event to thank our host families for hosting us. My whole host family showed up — including my Gogo’s sisters and their children. The room was packed at the event, so unfortunately I couldn’t get many pictures and videos of PCTs performing traditional isiNdebele dances and reciting a speech in isiNdebele to thank our families. There were also various traditional dances done by young male and females of the surrounding isiNdebele community, which was so cool to watch! (even if I was sitting on a railing outside the room)

The whole family (cousin and aunts included) and neighbors!

Here are some photos from the day of the event with my Gogo, Thandi, Letho, JuJu and Emihle and Emihle’s 1st birthday!

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