I stepped onto the patio, and then followed my Ama’s sister into the house. She motioned with her right arm towards a petite salmon/pink room with lace and yellow checkered curtains strung over the low windows. After dropping my backpack in the corner and surveying the room briefly, did I step through the white curtained doorway into a larger sitting room. "Chia?" she asked me in a sweet tone. I answered "yes please, thank you very much" to which she responded hurredly with "no English. Nepali. No English". We laughed for a couple seconds before I followed her into the lavendar painted kitchen. She pointed to a wooden chair covered in a red and black knit cushion, and I took a seat in front of the window at the small table pushed up against the wall. She hurried into the kitchen and I could hear the clattering of dishes and the quiet click of the lighter as the stove kicked to life. I sat quietly with my legs crossed, arms folded over my legs, looking around the room at the small decorated sofa and the fake flowers hanging from the walls. Then, another bustle in the kitchen, a couple shouted words, some movement, and in through the dooway walked the woman who was to be my "Ama" (mother) for the next week. She greeted me with a small smile and her hands raised to her chest, before sitting opposite me on the sofa I had just been staring at. We exchanged names. Silence. She began by telling me about how she is a school teacher. We talked for about 10 minutes about what she does, the children, my mother and father, and my school back home. Silence. Smiles. Awkwardly looking around the room. She asked, "Did you bring pictures?" to which I dissapointingly responded that I hadn’t. I crossed my legs the other way. I drank my tea. Her sister brought me out popcorn and crackers and set them on the table in front of me. I asked about her family: 5 brothers and 2 sisters, where they lived, about their ages and their wellbeing. Our conversation went on like this for about 45 minutes. The kitchen was comfortable and cute, but I couldn’t help but be extremely aware of myself and the awkward, fragmented conversation I was contributing to.
After a while of talking, I was asked if I wanted to rest, and I must say that the hour or two spent in my room reading was a very welcomed time to just take in my surroundings, adjust to where I was, and take a deep breath. After some time when I tired of reading and writing, drawing and figeting, I emerged from my room to ask the sister if she needed help preparing dinner. When she saw me, she jumped up a little bit, reminded me, "no english, no english", and hurredly went to get her sister. 3 minutes later, I found myself in the same situation: in my window chair, her on the sofa, attempting to make small talk. As the night progressed, she seemed to grow more comfortable with my presense. I sat next to her in the sitting room as she flipped through albums of past homestay Dragons students who had stayed with her for weeks and mailed her books or cards filled with pictures and memories. She was eagear to talk about her "kids", to tell me of the things they had done and her stories. Jacob visited me on the patio (his house just beneath mine) before dinner, and I was comforted to know that his experiences were similar to mine. Conversation was easier through dinneras she showed me simple things in the kitchen, and was constantly checking on how I was (Was I full? Was I hungry? Was it good? Did I want more?). This morning when I woke up, she had hot water ready for me to shower. Afterwards she excitedly beckoned me into the small lavendar kitchen with her to cook breakfast. I was happy to have something to do with her, time that we could interact. She seemed thrilled to teach me how to cook, after I sheepishly explained that I am hopeless in the kitchen. We made potatoes for the evening, ramen-type noodles, strained rice for later, and boiled milk for cereal. She brought me out eggs while I was eating because, as she kept saying, she wanted to know that "my stomach would be good". As I left to meet Jacob and his brother before walking up to the program house about 20 minutes away, I gave her a hug and she smiled at me, telling me to have a good day and don’t miss the house on my way home.
I think in all of our homestay situations, awkwardness, break in conversation, adjustment time, and language confusion is inevitable. In even the short time I have been there (not even a fully day), I have felt a lot of improvement in the way we interact and her comfort level towards me. I can only imagine that it will get better, and I will come to know well this woman who I have heard is extremely kind and caring. I look forward to spending the next week with her, getting to know her family, and learning what it feels like to be a part of her lifestyle. I have only a positive attitude and am sure, that while it may take a little bit of time, I am giong to have a great experience staying in her home!