“HOME STAY”

Zin Mar Myint from Myanmar

I took off my shoes cause it was hurting my feet so bad and causing blisters. I started running. It was already 5:30 pm. I promised John who is my host family that I would be home before 5:45 pm and I would come along with him to Salish Kootenai College (SKC). I always keep in mind that people here are punctual but it is very hard to get on time when my schedule is tight packed. I kept running barefoot with those uncomfortable shoes in my one hand and a coat in the other while my longgyi (Traditional Burmese wear) was loosening at the waist and started falling off. I was late. When I got home, he already left. I called him as I saw him took off. Fortunately, he was so kind to drove back to pick me up.

Friday evening of May 8 is one of the wonderful experiences which I will never forget in my life. I attended Powwow event at the SKC, a tribal college on a Native American reservation. Powwow is a ceremony of Native American indigenous people gathering, singing and dancing. The SKC is located in Pablo, Montana where you can see the most beautiful sky up close. About one hour drive from Missoula to SKC gave us a chance to have a deep conversation. Traditional clothes, dancing and music of the indigenous people amazed me. Another highlight of that day was the dinner at Charlie B’s. All Missoula people know how awesome the place is!

As this week is home stay period of the YSEALI program, all fellows are having fun and doing activities with their host families. Same for me, too. My host family is very wonderful. John is a professor of Media Design at SKC. He is a futurist. Suzanne, an inspiring woman is a professor of Business Management at the University of Montana. They have two children. Sophia, a 14 year old girl is my tour guide and my teacher. She is smart and good at music. Griffin who is age 11 is a popular boy and very good at soccer. They have a funny silly dog, Yoshi (He’s nervous around me) and an arrogant cat, Dandelion (He acts like he is the king of the world). To be honest, it was hard for me to settle down during the first few days because our cultures are very different. I knew they felt the same too. They have been doing as much as they can to make me feel as family. Gradually, I feel comfortable around them. We went shopping, hiking and dining out. We all watched TV and did many activities. They are amazing people. I am very lucky to meet them. They even bought me very comfortable tennis shoes to go hiking.

Personally, I think home stay is a very important part of the program. It plays a crucial role to strengthen the relationship between the United States and South East Asian Countries. It has been an opportunity for me to experience American people lifestyle, to understand American culture and values and to have long term relationship. A sad thing is only a few days left to be with them. It is supposed to be two weeks but I am going out of town for a couple of days and when I am back, the home stay period would be over. I wish I could have more time with them. I would like to meet them again someday.

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