Sou s’dai everybody!
In this Yak post I have some suggestions and information for you all regarding gifts for your Cambodian homestay families. We recommend that you bring small gifts for your homestay families to show your appreciation, however it can be difficult to know what to bring for someone that you haven’t met yet!
We encourage you to think of these gifts as an opportunity to build connections with your host family, and share a little about who you are and where you come from. The best gifts are great conversation starters; they shouldn’t be expensive, but rather something meaningful that represents you.
Here are some ideas:
- Photos of you, your family, and places that are important to you. You might also consider bringing photos of places such as your home, your school, your pets, or even your hometown.
- If you do any visual arts, you could bring a small painting/sketch/carving for your family.
- If you like cooking, you could bring a small bottle of maple syrup and some pancake mix and cook for your family.
- Something unique to your state or hometown. Examples could be a craft sold at your local farmer’s market, a small state flag, posters of a famous place in your state, or stickers that you can explain the significance of.
- Postcards where you translate the description into Khmer the best you can. It gives families a chance to teach you some new language points and ask you questions.
- Small puzzles of famous places in your state that you could do together.
- A sketch of your homestay house or family, or even your favorite spot in the community.
- Music! If your family enjoys singing or playing music, learn a song with them and teach them a song. Make a short video or print the lyrics with a photo of you all singing for them. There is a famous Khmer saying that “music is the soul of the nation”; needless to say that Cambodian people love music!
- A collection of small posters of something you enjoy (like if you love visiting national parks, you could give posters of the parks you’ve been to).
- Any other fun small items that start a conversation between you and your host family and represent something special and unique about you!
Note: Photos are always special and often a great parting gift as well. Whether you choose to give families photos or not, bring some to show them pieces of your daily life.
One final tip – Khmer culture is very communal, and families can be large! We would recommend avoiding gifts that can only really be used by / useful for one person (eg. a t-shirt), and instead try to focus on small gifts that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about what gifts might be appropriate.