by: Emma Krummenacher
On Thursday night, we got to do our homestay with families in Stakliskes. I did a week long homestay on a study abroad trip through my high school in France, but we had talked to our families for months before coming to stay with them. For this homestay, we met some of the kids at the cemetery earlier in the week, but we did not know who exactly we would be with. Because of this, I was really worried about the homestay.
After an initial bout of confusion at the school trying to figure out who was staying there, we headed home with our families. Shannon and I stayed with a girl named Lina and her family. Lina spoke English very well and from what I could tell so did her brother and sister, but her parents did not speak any English. I was worried that this language barrier would cause some problems at the homestay, but Lina translated perfectly and everything went smoothly.
When we got to Lina's house, her mom immediately offered us sandwiches and tea. Every member of her family that was at the house at that time pitched in to help make Shannon and I food. I was somewhat surprised by how nice and accommodating they were to us outsiders, but I was even more grateful.
From that point on, the warm hospitality only grew. Lina and her brother, Lukas, took us around Stakliskes and then we went to see their grandmother. She was so sweat. After inviting us into her home, she just kept repeating how beautiful we were. She thought that Shannon and I knew Russian so she kept trying to speak to us in Russian. While we were getting ready to leave, she asked to take a picture with us. I was so touched by how just meeting Shannon and I and taking a picture with us made her so happy. When I think about it, I do not really believe that getting to take a picture with some girls that came from another country would ever make me that happy. It just goes to show how far simple acts of kindness can go.
I was not expecting anything from my host family except for a place to stay. I certainly did not expect to feel the warmth of a family home while I was 4000 miles away from my own. Getting to spend a night at Lina's house was an experience that I would never trade for the world. For me this homestay encompassed a lot of what this trip is about in making lifelong connections with such a wonderful community.