WOW! Today was my most eventful day in the Peace Corps so far (okay, okay, it’s been a whopping 4 days and counting). But today was the day I met my temporary host family! After a morning of training and lunch at the hotel, our group packed up the bus and drove to a school about a half an hours’ drive away. Before we were released into the schoolyard, we were each given a printout with a different clip art picture on it. We were told to look for the family with the matching picture. My picture was:
Stepping out of that bus was nothing short of terrifying. (One of my fellow volunteers said, “I hope my host family doesn’t hate me.” YEAH, DITTO THAT FEELING.) I had to remind myself that I’m not actually an orphan–I have a loving family … a family that is currently 5,000 miles away. *gulp*
We all crowded onto the school yard, and then the doors to an adjoining building opened and … out came our new families. I spotted an older gentleman also holding a yellow smiley face and when he approached me, I began to panic because he was alone. (Um, am I going to live with him alone? Just the two of us? How is this appropriate?) But then one of our Albanian-speaking Peace Corps staff members stepped forward to introduce us, explaining that the man’s wife and family were at home, and that they had hosted two other volunteers in the past. That made me feel a little better.
Short cut to, me following this man and getting into his car with all of my luggage. My host father speaks very little English. I speak very little Albanian. On the drive, I tried to inquire about his family. He didn’t seem to understand the words “children,” or “kids,” so I mimicked holding a baby. He told me he doesn’t have any babies, but then stated he has 3 sons. Oh, boy.
So before joining the Peace Corps, I did some reflection and realized … I have never lived with a man other than my father. I don’t have brothers, never had male roommates, have never been married, and never had any interest in living with any of my boyfriends. I have always solidly been a woman’s woman. I prefer the company of women to men, hands down, any day. (I think men are kind of boring, to be honest, but perhaps that’s a post for another day.)
So we drive up to this man’s house, where I meet his wife, who also doesn’t speak any English. After taking my things inside, we come back out to sit on the patio.
Okay, another short cut. My host father leaves for a business trip to Albania. His son arrives, who looks to be in his twenties and speaks pretty good English. It turns out, there are three grown sons in the family, none of whom live at home. Whew.
Before being matched with our host families, we had to fill out a questionnaire. I mentioned I like to hike, which is partly why I think I was matched with this family. My host brother stated his mother likes to hike, and then said, “Every day when you get home from school, you will go hiking with my mother.” (EVERY DAY? Geez. At least I’ll have tight glutes to look forward to.)
There is so much else I could write, but it is very late and this post is getting long. I met various other family members today, including a 12-year-old cousin/nephew, who speaks English pretty well and with whom I played games like tic-tac-toe and hangman; and my host brother’s fiancé, who speaks the best English of anyone in the family and who is completely lovely.
My host brother and his fiancé are getting married July 30, so, it’ll be my first Kosovar wedding! I was told that not only am I invited (of course), but I will be sitting at the family’s table. This goes to show you the level of kindness and hospitality being extended to me.
Here is a view from the balcony:
And here is my new bedroom. Finally, I have unpacked!
My Hello Kitties are ready for bed! (I can’t help but feel they are staring at me with accusing eyes … “Why did you bring us to Kosovo?”)
Eleanor Roosevelt said you should do one thing every day that scares you. Well, Eleanor, I did ten things today that scared me. And there’s a lot more to come …