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The Tiger's Nest in Bhutan. Photo by Chelsea Ferrel.

A New Family

Every meal that we have had at our homestay has concluded the same way; with out homestay mother and grandmother commenting on how little we eat. While attempting to plop more food on our plates, they say that if we don’t eat we will get thin and also point out that we don’t want an empty stomach because that will make us miss our parents. We graciously try to pull our plates away repeating how full we are and complimenting how delicious the food was. After a while our homestay mother will shake her head and laugh and we go wash our plates.

This was the routine until this morning, when before we could object our homestay mother handed us each plates with an enormous pile of rice. WE looked at the plates and began to eat, knowing it would take us a while to finish. While we were eating, our homestay mother again pointed out that we didn’t want to be thin and we didn’t want to miss our parents. But this time, she added that she was our mother now too, and with that she tried to pile even more food onto our plates. All of this was translated by our homestay mother’s niece and was reinforced by the stern look and eventual laugh of our homestay mother. We couldn’t help but smile at the way she took ownership of us. We truly felt a part of her family.

I am incredibly thankful for the way our homestay family has adopted us and made us feel right at home. It has been an honor to both live with them and get to know them. Their smiles, eagerness to learn more about us, and desire to help us navigate living in their village has created a welcome warmer than I could have ever imagined. I am happy to leave this village being able to call these people part of my family.