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homestay Archives - St. Stephen's University

My Own Experience

By | 2012, Asia | No Comments

As our group of stressed, overtired, and hungry students piled into a tour bus about to head to Hong Kong, it finally hit me — the feeling of not knowing what to expect. Along with the not knowing came the fear that I might get “the full experience,” the experience that past SSU students have had and come back to tell tales of, great moments that I could only hope to have. But why must I compare my experience with theirs?

While walking through the canopy of a rain forest near Kuala Lumpur I was struck by the thought that this is one crazy and insane trip I am on; that no matter what, it will be the best for me. It was as if my thoughts turned from comparing my time in Southeast Asia with other students’ trips to where I really started to experience Southeast Asia for myself.

Simply put, I can never relive the moment that I am now in. My experience in Southeast Asia is special to me and only to me, no matter how much I explain how great it is to others. From the concert night at Northwestern University to the conversations I have with my homestay family, others will never grasp the full reality of the trip that I am currently partaking in.

In conclusion, my trip so far has been amazing. Every time I open my eyes I am greeted by the warm hearts of the people that I am living with. I stand in amazement every time I see the sun rise as it means another day in Paradise. To each his own and may the other trips following mine be even greater.

Conversations and “Conversations”

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

We are down to the last few days of our long trip in Southeast Asia and I honestly cannot say that I’m glad to be leaving.  I am looking forward to some of the comforts of home. The stability of staying in one place. Familiar foods. A place to take a rest from the realm of moving,waiting, engaging and engaging again with moments of cultural elation and cultural frustration. Though I’m not looking forward to completing the coming assignments I do look forward to the prospect of gleaning from my experiences.

There are a lot of things I could say stand out about what I’ve experienced of Asia: Bartering. Food. Interesting lectures on culture, politics, and contemporary issues. Rain forests. Mountains. Rats… the list can go on. I don’t want to sound idealistic or cliche but one of the best parts of this trip has been the relationships made with the local homestay families and local students. I’ve been invited into people’s homes, into their family and their everyday life. I’ve shared in their wealth or their lack of what my North American self would think of as normal standard of living. There is nothing else that has broken down my feeling unfamiliar with my surroundings like the genuine welcome and friendship of people I have met in the Philippines, Malaysia or Thailand… and it happened for me in each of these countries. The sharing of a name, a meal, of a conversation or the struggle through a conversation.

I’m becoming a greater believer in the idea of the “conversation”. It seems ironic to think of “conversation” when you have two people who are trying to talk to each other slowly and dumbly in two very different languages. But it’s more that we were there, we may have been laughing at each other but we were trying. Barriers seem to break down when people allow themselves to be vulnerable and open-hearted. The best conversations I had were simple. But they happened when I was willing to say “hello” or ask a name. Looking back, I hope that I will remember the hospitality and openness of the people who took care of me while I was a stranger in a far away place, and how even simple smiles and hellos can break barriers as wide as the ocean.