Moving around host families


by Joseph - HCE Mentor

During my time in China, I was lucky enough to spend time with three—not one, not two—but three different host families! All three families lived within the same apartment complex, so moving between them was a cinch.

The first family I stayed with had two children, named Gordon and Un-un. Gordon was in 2nd grade at the school where I worked, so we’d walk the two minutes to school together, and I’d usually accompany him on the way back as well. His parents were very kind, and they emphasized aspects like creativity and critical thinking for their children, not just rote memorization. The father knew very little English, but the mother knew some basic vocabulary so we were able to communicate on simple terms. On weekends, they’d take out for lunch or dinner at the mall. Un-un knew no English since he was only about 4 years old, but Gordon was learning English in school, so we were able to practice together. The second family I stayed with was a very small one. It consisted of Yuvella, a girl in Gordon’s 2nd grade class, and her mother and aunt. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know them that well, since I was only with them for six days, two of which I spent in Shenzhen on a trip. The mother worked for most of the day, and her aunt knew no English, so it was a challenge to communicate. Yuvella’s English was slightly better than Gordon’s, but also around the basic level since she was still so young. I’m currently living with my third family. They’re the largest family so far, and they also have the largest apartment. The family consists of the father, mother, nanny, grandmother, and three children. Kevin is 14, Jerry is another classmate of Gordon and Yuvella, and they have a year-old sibling who hasn’t been named yet. The other two apartments I’d stayed in had similar layouts and only one floor, but this apartment had three floors! The door even had a cool thumbprint scanning unlock feature. 

It was interesting to observe the lives of the three Chinese host families that I stayed with, and see their similarities and differences.

The parents knew little English, and Jerry’s English was at the same beginner level as Gordon’s and Yuvella’s. Luckily, I was able to do most of my communication through Kevin, who had a decent grasp of English and was by far the easiest person to communicate with out of the three families. An incoming sophomore, he was also preparing to study abroad for his junior year in the U.S. I gave him lots of advice on what to expect in America. We talked about a variety of topics, including the safety of US cities to high school culture. While he’s a fairly quiet kid for the most part, I learned that it was because lack of confidence in his English skills. We made great progress, and he was always eager to practice with me, which was a great way to help him improve while learning more about each other’s cultures. It was interesting to observe the lives of the three Chinese host families that I stayed with, and see their similarities and differences. They’ve all treated me kindly, and I can’t thank them enough for providing me with so much during my time in China. 

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