During these past few weeks, I have transitioned from Chile to Nepal. While some parts of transitioning are challenging, I have had an amazing experience. I live with my host dad and his mom who are Newari, and my host mom who is Japanese. I have two host siblings, a little sister who is four, and a little brother who is seven. They know four languages! – Nepali, Newari, Japanese and English! Every day after classes, I come home and eat dinner with them, and hangout. My host mom always cooks us dinner, and we talk about our days. She understands me, but doesn’t speak fluent English. Amazingly, my roommate speaks fluent Japanese! Through translations, body language, and sitting in one each other’s company, I have loved getting to know her and the rest of the family.
Spending time with the kids has been really special. During dinner, Aayan, my seven year old brother, asks us so many questions! “Why do you wear those earrings? Why do you have blue eyes? What is your favorite cup? What is your favorite door?” He is such a cutie. Airi loves to dance and sing. And, while at first she was really shy and gave me a lot of intense glares, she is now full of smiles, laughs, and warm hugs.
My host dad is a professional musician! During meals we get to hear about his adventures all around the world, meeting famous people, and we even get to hear him play his guitar and sing around the house. We also talk a lot about the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, along with all of the festivals that they celebrate in Nepal. One of these festivals is called Tihar or the Festival of Lights. Families put Tika, a red sticky powder on one anothers’ heads as a form of a blessing, and wear flower necklaces. During this time, the entire city is covered in multicolored lights. During these festivals, different days signify different types of celebrations. Each day, people worship different things such as dogs, siblings, cars, their own bodies, and other gods.
Living with my host family, I have learned a lot about hospitality. They are always offering and serving me so much food, inviting us to family gatherings, and they never hesitate to make my roommate and I tea. They ask us, frequently, how we are doing. In fact, when we were both sick at different times, they took such good care of us. It’s amazing to have a place that feels like home, all the way across the world.