Homestay life, part 2

I’ve been with my host family almost two months now. Things have definitely gotten easier as my ability to communicate has improved and everyone seems to have fallen into more of a routine with one another. As I get more comfortable and learn more about how things work, I’m able to take more responsibility for myself and help out around the house, which makes me feel more comfortable. After dinner, I help Nosta do the dishes, even though she still laughs at the way I wash pots. She does nearly all the work around the house, especially now that school has finished—cooking, cleaning, taking care of the littlest boys. But since I’m not always sure when I can use the gas stove or when we’re using coal, for example, I’m dependant on her to do things like heat my bathwater.

Jaime, who is twenty-seven, speaks excellent English and wants to apply for university to be an interpreter or translator. I have been helping him study for what seems like a ridiculously hard entrance exam—some of the questions are on such fine points of English grammar that even I am not sure of the right answer. In spite of this, I think he will do well, but he says he needs luck, too, because of all the corruption that goes on in the education system.

Benedita works as a secretary at the secondary school, so sometimes our paths during Model School. I wonder how much things would continue to settle were I to stay here for a longer period of time. I think about how in Turkmenistan, I would have lived with a host family for my whole two years at site. Even though I like my family here, I know I’ll be relieved to establish and maintain my own home. At the same time, there is so much you can gain and learn only through living with other people, particularly when learning a new language and culture. I’m glad to start out in a homestay situation, but I think in the long-term, living on my own will enable me to be more successful in my job and elsewhere in my community.

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