Who knew you could feel apart of a family in just a couple of days? It amazes me that so many host families are more than excited to open their doors to a future new family member. Today I leave what will be my fourth host family experience, and one of two here in Madagascar. Both families have been beyond amazing in accepting me as part of their family.
One day, as we had a picnic lunch under one of the many pibossy trees and on the acting basketball court, my host bébé looked around and counted all of us: five children. I looked at her as though she miscounted, and she just looked at me and smiled, repeating “5”. To her, I was one of her grandchildren. I felt so honored. At times, I just felt like a host guest who showed up to meals, but to her, I was so much more, a family member.
I had a similar experience at site visit. The second day in, my host mom was showing me my future home, which is very close to hers, and she just looked at me and said, it’s so great we’ll be so close, you can come by all the time. Later, at dinner, she insisted to me that I was one of her daughters, part of the family, and that she was “neny/mama”. Multiple dinners throughout the two weeks there, included future plans visiting their family in another city in Madagascar. I was immediately a member of the family.
After four different host families and cultural experiences, I’ve learned that in the end, they’re all so similar. A family, totally different from your own, in culture and in language, is more than willing to put all of the “differences” aside and open their hearts and welcome you in. We share customs, laughs, misunderstandings, and meals full of charades, but most importantly we share an openess and an acceptance to multiple ways of life. Though there are many times where I’d rather be in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by my own family, it’s comforting and eye-opening to know that I actually always am. I am more than lucky to now have five families all over the world.