27 May What Makes A Great Peace Corps Host Family
This post originally appeared on our personal blog while we were still in Peace Corps. It has been revived here as part of our Jamaican culture series.
Home stays are not unique to Peace Corps. They are an integral part of many transformative, cross-cultural programs. Sharing life with another family, being welcomed into their home and introduced to the inner workings of their community, is an experience that can change your life.
Home stays are inevitably risky for both parties, though. It pushes you outside of your comfort zone. You never know what it will be like, if you will get along with each other.
In our Peace Corps training, we collectively stayed with three different Jamaican host families over the course of 2 months. Then we lived on the property of another set of host parents for two whole years. We were fortunate enough to have truly wonderful experiences in each situation.
Here’s why we loved our host family experience:
- They become family, including you in family gatherings and outings, like Christmas parties, weddings, father’s day dinner…
- They give you enough space and privacy while always being available when you need them.
- When they notice that the rain is starting to fall and your laundry is hanging out on the line, they tell you before it’s too late– or, if you’re not home, they save your clothes from the downpour for you.
- They sit with you when the power goes out during tropical storms, sharing stories of storms gone by as you watch gusts torment the trees in the yard.
- They fix up the TV antenna just in time to watch their team dominate the Olympics with you.
- They stay up until 11pm with you watching a fellow Jamaican win a popular U.S. singing show.
- When you cook a favorite meal from home, they politely oblige you in tasting your strange dishes. (And in the case of brownies, they surprise themselves asking for more.)
- Occasionally they even carry home goodies to share- like fresh crab or lobster!
- They let you enjoy the bounty of their yard: mangoes, avocados, limes, guavas, breadfruit, and more…
- They volunteer alongside you at community events.
Impossible to forget, a great home stay host family will be in your heart and memories and stories for the rest of your life. We treasured our time with our Jamaican family, and we hope many more travelers will have the chance at an equally rewarding experience.
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