This week’s reflection comes from Catherine T.
One of my most meaningful days during our two week long trip to China was spent not with my host student or friends, but with my host mother.
The morning of the first day of my home stay, my host student had to attend a SAT prep class. While she was gone, I was left with nothing to do. I couldn’t communicate with her family, whose english knowledge did not reach farther than common greetings, and I certainly could not go out on my own. So, I resigned myself to reading in her bedroom while I waited for her return. However, I heard a knock on my door shortly after my host student’s departure. In surprise, I looked up to find that my host mother was standing in the doorway, with my shoes in her hand and a smile on her face. In confusion and curiosity, I quickly got up and walked over to her. She handed me my shoes and then pointed to the door. As she started putting on her own shoes, I realized that she was going somewhere and wanted me to come with her.
As we drove, she flipped through radio stations and smiled in delight whenever we would come across an English sounding one. Each time, she would turn to me and say “American!”. While more often than not it was country music(not exactly my favorite genre), I would still smile as she turned it up.
Soon we pulled into a parking garage, which soon revealed itself to be the lower level of a grocery store. As we rode the escalator upstairs I gazed in wonder at the floor to ceiling shelves of product and the magnitude of people. My host mother grabbed a cart and told me slowly, in her limited English, to get whatever I liked.
I was touched by her intent on making me feel welcome and comfortable while staying with her family as we wandered the aisles. She was incredibly attentive; when I hesitated to ask for things, she would notice immediately and grab the object of my attention and put it in the cart. She also grabbed some of her own favorites, such as Chinese Chestnuts, to share with me.
The next morning she prepared a breakfast with the foods we had bought together. We ate together as her daughter and husband slept. We spoke very little, but we sat together comfortably.
My experience with my host family was my favorite part of my trip, but the short time I spent with my host mother was the most special. The bond we formed, even with the language barrier, made me feel like I was spending time with my own mother. While I may never see her again, I will cherish the memories we made.