My partner and I had a bit of misunderstanding with our family and haven’t been able to visit in a while. So we decided to just show up this week and try to make one last visit. After a while of trying to get into their building we finally just showed up at their door knocking. They were surprised to see us but welcomed us in right away. As it turns out their phone has been disconnected so that’s why we weren’t able to reach them. We tried to assist with the phone company as much as we could and we also gave them a dictionary that I had found in their language. I was sad though that I we had to tell them that we wouldn’t be able to make weekly visits anymore because the semester has come to an end. The whole family all looked sad to hear this as well, I really hope I can find some time to see them again next semester. Seems to be so much more that could be done to help, and they also seemed to really appreciate every little thing that is done for them. Even if it is something as simple as just come over to talk. This whole experience has been very humbling and has opened my eyes to the whole refugee situation in general and how hard it is to assimilate into a new country.
From the beginning of the semester, I was unsure of what to expect with my refugee family. I’ve had experiences with other refugee families and those were definitely different compared to the one this semester. I felt that my partner and I connected with the family at some levels and sometimes there was also miscommunication. One of the major challenges was the language barrier. The family was very eager to learn the language but realistically they only know a limited number of words. We did appreciate their warmth and hospitality that they have showed us. They were always very friendly and would provide us snacks and water whenever we were there. It was quiet interesting how they thought that my partner and I were there as teachers and always expected us to have something to teach – but through explaining to them, we were still able to help them with learning the language and also explained that we were not teachers and that we were students. The main family was great at our departure and thankful for all the assistance that we provided. It was definitely sad to say good-bye to these individuals who became a part of our learning experience. We hope to keep contact with them and hope they too will be improving and doing well in the future.
I‘ve barely seen my family this December, with essays and finals and all, but this Sunday Alyssa and I are going to their apartment to celebrate the little girl’s birthday! I am taking my sister with me: she has met the mother and son once before, but this will be her first time meeting the father and daughter, and since it’s going to be a family event, she will get to meet all of the aunts and uncles too.
The last time I was at my family’s home, we helped the girl with her homework. Alyssa had to leave a bit early, so I stayed and talked to the mother while she worked on knitting a hat for the girl. She told me it was going to be her birthday present, and I could see the satisfaction and pride she had on being able to give something to her daughter. She opened up to me about how difficult it was to leave her friends and family behind in Nepal and Bhutan, and how sad she feels about not having blood relatives nearby. The father has many relatives that live around the area.
As I was leaving, the little boy, like the time before, sat himself on the floor and spread wide his legs and arms in order to block me from reaching the door. I didn’t want to step over him, so the mother and I just stood laughing for a couple minutes. She reached down and scooped him up, and as I said my goodbyes, he started crying. The closer I walked to the door, the louder his wailing became, so I came back and tickled him and made him give me high fives until he quieted down. Finally, I told him goodbye in as cheerful a manner as I could in the hopes that he wouldn’t start crying again. The mother followed me to the door, and as I bid them goodbye for the last time, the little boy responded, half-teasing, “no bye, no bye,” over and over again, and refused to wave his hand. The mother and I laughed at this, but as I walked out of the apartment and down the hallway, the little boy’s wails followed me.
I’ve learned a great deal from the experience of visiting a refugee family and quite honestly I’m a little bit embarrassed because I was so ignorant on the topic before I took this class. It’s almost impossible to imagine the kind of strength and patience it takes for these refugees to come from their homes and move thousands of miles away to places where they don’t speak the language, don’t have any possessions, and that are vastly different from what they are used to. But if there is one thing that I have learned from this experience it is that these refugees have a great amount of spirit. The family my partner and I visited was always cheerful, fun loving, and legitimately happy to have our assistance. And I believe most refugees are like them in that they are able to make light of the terrible situations they are in. The thing I will remember most is the fun we had, the great progress we made in such a short time and their unbelievable will to learn and be happy in America.
My last visit to the refugee family which my partner and I have been assisting this semester was a little more anticlimactic than I had expected due to the fact that I was planning on visiting them one more time before finals but I just couldn’t make it. This visit was not unlike any of the others in that we sat down at their living room, helped the children with their homework, and then practiced vocabulary and grammar with the whole family. This week however, we came at a different time than we usually did because of schedule conflicts and learned that the family had been getting visits from other sources, mainly a refugee help program called Exodus. We meet the other lady who had been helping them and she told use that she usually does the same things as we do when we visit which was reassuring. Though all of our visits involved fun and laughter of some sort this one was especially fun because the children brought out a radio and an ipod to show us the music they liked. While we were studying with the family one of the children turned on the Christmas music station and they all seemed to at least recognize the songs. I don’t know whether this was because it was the only radio station their old radio received or whether they were just big fans of Christmas but either way we all sang along sloppily to “up on the roof top”. Mostly just the ho ho ho parts but it was fun anyway. Ultimately, this whole experience turned out to be quite rewarding and enlightening, and though the semester is over the family still has means to contact us so if they ever need anything I would be very willing to help them. Not just because they are forced migrants but because they’re genuinely nice people who deserve assistance.
Our last visit of the semester. Perhaps it was for the best that Rachel and I were so busy helping P. finish her science fair project for most of the visit, it left less time to think about this being our last day before a whole month of break. I’ve been looking forward to Christmas and family and sleep (four weeks is a long time to not have to worry about papers or tests), but I’ve also looked forward to spending time with our refugee family this entire semester, more so than I could have really imagined at the beginning. I agree with what Rachel said, we’ve both become so attached to these kids, to this family. It’s amazing how quickly someone carves a space in your heart. But what’s still the most amazing thing to me is how quickly we were welcomed, from the very first day, as a part of their lives. I’m so grateful for everything. I’m grateful for us being included in birthdays and family gatherings, I’m grateful for all of the hospitality, the warmth, I’m grateful for every meal P.’s mom prepared for us, without fail, and always with a smile (and they were some of the most delicious dinners I’ve ever had).
It’s kind of surreal, thinking back on our first visit, which was only two months ago. So much has changed since then, and I definitely feel that I have changed as well. Another thing I’m grateful for is the opportunity this class has given me in order to do something like this. Being able to have these kinds of experiences was what drove me to sign up for this class in the first place, and I’m so glad I did. Rachel and I have already decided that we want to keep visiting next semester as well, and I’m grateful too that I’ve had such an amazing partner to experience this all with (and who wants to keep coming back for more too!) So this definitely isn’t the end. Rachel, P., and I made plans to build snowmen and make some awesome chalk illustrations, after all.
The slight homework problems I had experienced with D. the previous visit seemed to foreshadow what happened during this one. P. began telling us about a science project she had that was due soon, and both Rachel and I had assumed that it was a project that she hadn’t actually started yet, and that she had some time to work on. Later in our visit, however, we come to learn that P.’s project is due in two days, and that she had not actually done a scientific experiment for her project. Furthermore, D. had to do a science project as well, and though her poster board was nearly completed, she hadn’t done her proposed experiment either. Yet, she was asking Rachel and I what to put for ‘data’ and ‘conclusion,’ which she had yet to add to her poster. Rachel and I tried explaining that the whole purpose of these projects is that you have to do an experiment, otherwise you won’t have any information to go off of.
I think we were both a little overwhelmed and shocked by their lack of awareness. They didn’t seem to comprehend how critical the actual experiment process was until we explained it. The fact that they had to carefully manage their time for the project and that this was a process, not just something you could do it a day, probably went over their heads. When we asked if they had received any specific instructions from their teachers or had asked their teachers for help, they both responded in the negative. Naturally, Rachel and I started to get a little stressed for them. Whereas D. had at least began putting together her project, P. had done no experiment and had not started a poster, and she only had two days to put everything together. We decided we’d come back the next day to help her with a simple project and to help her complete her poster. It was honestly the first day where Rachel and I really encountered an issue, and we were the only ones who could really fix it in such a short amount of time.
Our visit that week was pretty casual, and Rachel and I were obviously excited for Thanksgiving break coming up, which we mentioned to P. and D. They knew about Thanksgiving, but they couldn’t remember the details of the ‘Pilgrims and Indians’ story behind it, so we told them the history of the holiday and why Americans continue to celebrate it. Rachel and I also spent some time helping them with their homework. D. had a social studies quiz coming up for American history. Looking at her textbook, I saw that she was currently learning about one of my favorite time periods, during the expansion West in the 1800’s with the Oregon Trail and others. She had a study guide of questions on the chapter, so I helped her answer them. D. is a smart girl, which is why I was a little surprised when she said she had not read any of the sections of the chapter she was about to be quizzed on. It made me wonder if she had tried and just had problems comprehending the material (which is understandable, given that it was filled with jargon and vocabulary most refugees wouldn’t immediately know) or if she maybe didn’t understand that part of her homework included actually reading these sections to herself, not just learning about the material at school. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to ask her any of my questions, as our visit was short and I focused instead on helping her go through the study guide since that was the immediate concern. It was the first time, however, that I felt that there may be some kind of disconnect with fully comprehending an assignment.
This semester with my refugee family has been great. Our first visit was wonderful. They were so welcoming to random people who just came to their apartment. Most Americans would have a completely different reaction. It was a very nice surprised because me and my partner were both very nervous
We lucked out with our family of a mom, dad and four year old daughter. The father, Prasad, was an english teacher in the refugees camps so he spoke fluent english. His wife, Tulasi, didn’t speak english as well as he but she can still communicate. Through out the semester we worked with her to improve her english. She’s is much better now but is still very nervous to speak english in front of us. Their daughter, Apshana, is the cutest little thing. She was my favorite part of our visits. She always showed me and Erica all her toys and she did our hair. We brought child books for her, so she can start learning english. All she could say was “My name is Apshana”. She always made me laugh. One time during dinner, she walked in wearing my boots that covered up her whole legs. It was very funny. We tried teaching her english but she had a short attention span and it isn’t working out so well. We just play instead. She isn’t in school right now because she is afraid to go.
Sadly on her first day a little black boy made fun of her and beat her up. She never wanted to go back. The whole family is very afraid of their neighborhood. They live by Howard and Sheridan. Tulasi doesn’t even want to go outside without Prashad because she is afraid. Also their rent is very expensive and they want to move to a new apartment. I don’t think they understand how a lease works, but somehow they were able to move out of their apartment to a cheaper one. We haven’t had a chance to go visit them yet, but hopefully soon. I feel like they don’t really need our help and are becoming more and more assimilated every day. I would love to keep in touch with them for as long as possible.
Although we are losing touch, we still try to teach them things about America. Recently we brought them a pizza because they have never tried it. I think they enjoyed the pizza, but they also made dinner after we ate it. I don’t think they got the concept of us bringing them dinner because they made us dinner so much. I am going to miss spending time with them.
Our last visit was this past week. The family welcomed us with warmth and gladness once again. Since the last visit, my partner and I were glad to receive such welcome again from the family. They talked with us about their recent experiences. They told us about their time with their Church’s pastors Thanksgiving dinner that he and his family hosted on their farm. If I recall correctly, the father described it to be fun and that there was so much food there. I am fully aware that they are new to the traditions, but I am very glad that they are open in celebrating some traditional American holidays. I for one am very glad that they had a good experience. Even with a small income and home, the family was able to find a way to buy a new computer that would benefit not only them but their two teenagers that are not in school. The main person that we visited throughout this project has moved out and now living on his own in a different building than his family. I am glad for his growth and hope that one day I will be able to see him again and hope that then, he will be doing good for himself.
Our last visit with our family was happy and sad all at once. I took them a lot of Christmas gifts-lots of hands on activities, such as play dough, markers, crayola design kits, and a weaving loom. Needless to say, this went very well!
A relative came by when the little one had opened the play dough. The relative, an older woman, made letters with the play dough and told us what they were. The little one thought it was more fun to make bracelets and mix the colors together! The older boys were very interested in the play dough as well! Everyone had a great time with it! I also purchased these really neat 3-D Crayola kits that the older boys took a liking too. I was glad to provide them with items that they will be able to continue to enjoy!
I was excited when the mother called from work during our visit, actually, i was astounded. Speaking to her on the phone I could tell how much she had progressed in her speaking skills. She told me to not let the kids speak Nepali to each other, and that she is so happy she is learning English. She explained she always calls when she gets her “lunch break” which is around 8 PM.
The oldest boy told us that the family was moving soon to a smaller apartment down the street. I provided them will every single contact that I had for myself, and asked him to please call or email when he had his new address. I am graduating this semester, but will be in the Chicago area, so I plan on continuing the relationship we have built upon this semester. I feel obligated and also wish to continue visiting. I have gained new friends and I am always excited to see them! I explained that I wouldn’t be back until after January, and he seemed to understand.
I am so fortunate to have been able to be in a course such as this. I can’t believe what an awesome experience it is- I sometimes would forget that it was a course requirement, but instead looked at it as something I do every week without wondering why. The visits were very natural like any visits with friends are. I am so glad to have formed such wonderful relationships with people from the other side of the world. Coming from a small farming town outside Cincinnati, I never would have imagined I’d be presented with this opportunity!
Thanks for reading this semester! To anyone who comes afterwards, please cherish all the moments and the work you do with your families. It means more than we can even imagine.
I have had an amazing experience, as this class has opened my eyes. I have learnt so much. I never knew all the types of forced immigrants there where in this world and that refugees mainly move to neighboring countries. I understand what my refugee family is going through. Their whole lives have been flipped upside down. They have moved to an alien country and left their only son behind. It must be hard to move into a country alone, with no friends or family waiting to welcome you. My family only knows each other, they have no one. When I moved to London, I had family who already lived there for 30 years. They showed us around and helped us fill out government documents. I have made a commitment that I will stand close to my family, I have already told them that I will help them fill out forms to get free tuition after my finals are done. They are great people, and deserve our help. I will continue visiting them, as much as my time allows, because I know they still need assistant.
Sarah and I hadn’t seen our family since the 21st of November, before we left for Thanksgiving. We finally were able to get together and go on Sunday (12/11). I didn’t realize how much I missed them! We stayed for most of the afternoon into the evening, just spending time with the kids – all of the adults seemed to magically disappear on us. It was a pretty chill visit until about 30 minutes before we left…when both P and her cousin decided to tell us they had projects to finish for this week. At first, I didn’t really understand what kind of project, until P’s cousin brought in a display board and I realized they were talking about Science Fair projects.
Science fair projects that are notorious for taking up ridiculous amount of time (at least from my experiences…).
This was the first real instance of mis-communication I had experienced with our family. P’s cousin didn’t realize that a science-fair project required her to actually do an experiment, over an extended period of time, and record the results. She and P were under the impression that it was something they could do in one night. I was a bit put-off about it, because I felt it was her teacher’s responsibility to make that clear…and I had always been given a big comprehensive packet of information and instructions for completeing my science fair projects in elementary school…so I didn’t really understand why they hadn’t even given her an assignment sheet. Really, for all I know, they could have given her all that stuff and she could have not known what to do with it. She and P don’t have their parents as resources, like I did. Aside from Sarah and I, there were completely one their own.
So we left on Sunday night extremely frustrated and stressing about P’s science fair project, ON TOP OF the fact that finals week was about to start. I had a huge final the next morning, and all I could think about was how I could find a way to do an entire science-fair project in one night (P’s was due Tuesday). I thought back to my elementary days and remembered an experiment in which we had made paper helicopters of different sizes, and tried to determine which one would fall the fastest. It was a simple enough idea that I figured we’d be able to construct, test, and record in a pretty short amount of time – so I packed up the art supplies and Sarah and I went back on Monday evening.
In the end, we helped P put together a pretty awesome (and colorful!) project in about 2 hours. I hope she gets a good grade!
Unfortunately, before leaving on Monday, we had to explain that we would not be back to visit for at least a month. Sarah and I had talked before and determined that we wanted to continue seeing the family, even though it wouldn’t be as often next semester. I think we’ve both become pretty attached, and it would feel too weird and unfair to just suddenly stop coming entirely. I could tell P and her mother were disappointed, though. Sarah bought a photo album for P’s mother (she had mentioned to us during one of our earlier visits that she needed a new one), and I put in some pictures I had taken of the family during P’s birthday party – so at least we were able to give them a parting gift. Even though my schedule is even worse next semester, I hope to be able to make time at least every couple of weeks to visit my adopted family. There is no doubt that spending time with them has been the most valuable part of this course for me.
As we arrived at our family’s apartment building for a visit, the third-grade girl was waiting downstairs for us with exciting news: she just learned that she has an older brother and he is here! She was talking a mile a minute about her new brother. We learned during our last visit that some of our refugee family’s extended family was just relocated from refugee camps in Thailand to Rogers Park, but they said it was all cousins. I asked her if it was her brother or cousin that just arrived and she said that her mom told her it was her older brother and he was the one who carried her when they left their country. She was too young at the time to remember him. However, once we were up in the apartment for a while, the fifth-grade boy told us that his dad said he was his nephew, which would make them cousins instead of siblings. Therefore, we are not quite sure of their relation but regardless- it is a very exciting time! The fifth-grade boy translated some of what the parents and the newly arrived son/nephew was saying and my partner Trish said she learned that he came here on his own from Thailand, but is hoping that more family will soon follow.
This visit really made me think about how difficult it must be to have your family torn apart and relocated so far away. I can’t imagine it. My entire extended family is so close. I consider my aunts, uncles, and cousins to be in my immediate family. I think it’s hard enough living in Chicago for much of the year while my family is in Kansas City; I miss them a lot. I try to put myself in my refugee family’s shoes to imagine what it must be like to go through something as traumatic as leaving your own country and life behind and living in refugee camps and then on top of that – having your family split up across the world. I can’t imagine it. I am very happy for my family to be able to reconnect with some more members of their family.
The past two visits that we had with our family I was helping the oldest girl work on a paper for her driver’s education class. She had to research and write a two page paper about driving under the influence and its negative consequences. We spent almost two hours reading through relevant articles and reports to help her grasp the different aspects and dangers of drinking and driving. When it came time to start writing I asked her to summarize in her own words what we had learned. This led into a long conversation about plagiarism and why it is important to avoid copying anyone else’s work. I helped her make an outline for the paper and as she was writing I couldn’t help but remember my driver’s ed experience. It seems like such a long time ago, but I was in a very different place in my life than this girl is. I recall the high school drama, dance practices, after school job, and homework… what felt so monumental at that point in my life now seems trivial.
My partner and I came back that weekend because she hadn’t finished writing the paper that was due Monday. I told her that I would help check her grammar since she would have the paper written by the time I came back. After a solid 20 minutes of searching, her writing was nowhere to be found. So with a smile I encouraged her to start a new one. This one I told her, would be even better. While she was re-writing her outline her younger sister helped me with Karen. I have mastered the pronunciation of numbers but I am still not very good at sentences. She giggled as I mis-pronounced words that had different meanings – live and learn right? Once her older sister was finished writing we read through the paper together and I helped her with some grammatical errors – explaining exceptions in spelling why some words should be in different tenses.
While it is extremely rewarding to watch these kids learn and grow, it is also incredibly heartwarming to build personal connections and relationships with the family. The youngest boy has taken to giving us kisses on the cheek. He beams with excitement and will plop down in my lap with such ease and familiarity that I can’t help but feel welcome and accepted in their home.
This past weekend they got some good news – one of their family members was just re-located to rogers park! It was the perfect timing to explain to them that I would be visiting my family as well over Christmas break. I showed the kids the distance between Utah and Chicago on their map and told them about the snow and the mountains and how long it will take me to get there on the plane – of course also telling them that I will be coming back.
I was hoping that our last day was not going to be a surprise to our family, but sadly it ended up that way. We were unable to go last week when we intended to tell them this week would be our last. I think the most sad part was that it was the first time that we were all actually interacting at the same time,there was smiling and laughing and it was wonderfully bitter-sweet. I brought some winter clothes for the young girls and a few stuffed animals that I have had for awhile. They loved everything! (There was some fighting, but they loved it) We have been playing games every week for about the last moth and so I decided to bring a new game, go fish. They caught on immediately and things got pretty heated! After we payed for what seemed like forever it was time to go. I am so glad that the oldest son was there because he was able to explain to everyone else that we would not be coming back. I am not sure the girls understood, but the mom seemed disappointed and asked if any more visitors would be coming to see them. I wish that I could continue visiting them, but I am graduating and moving out of state. They have definitely made a difference in my life and I will always remember them, I hope they remember us.
My refugee family moved here in July, minus the son, because he was already over 21 years old. So he had to file his papers separately. The family misses him so much. He has two little daughters, and the grandparents miss their granddaughters an awful lot. They show me their pictures when I go there and how they speak on the phone, it makes them want to cry. Now I heard his papers finally came through and he can move here in 3 months! But now he is telling his parents that he doesn’t want to move to America, because he doesn’t want to struggle here like them. So they don’t know what to do. If he comes, he may regret it and be depressed. If he doesn’t come, the family will be depressed. It’s quite sad. I think the family must be telling him how hard life is here and he decided he doesn’t want to suffer like them. It is hard if you have two young children and a wife, and none of whom speak any English.
On Friday I went to visit my refugee family, but since it was short notice, only the mom was home. So I decided to bring along my friend who speaks Hindi, and could possible translate a little. Remember, the family is Bhutanese, but from Nepal, so they understand a little Hindi. I had to deliver some clothes my grandma put together for the mother, and a couple coats my friend donated for them. The mother loved all the things, but the coats especially, since she didn’t have one. I asked my friend to ask her about an update on the welfare they were supposed to get. She said they still don’t receive anything from the government. Although, some refugee organization that used to pay for her rent is giving the family $250 a month towards rent. That means they have to make the rest $500 and only the eldest daughter is working. When I first spoke with the daughter, she said she wanted to go to school for nursing. Now the mother is saying she will not because it is too expensive. So I told her I will see what I can do. I’m sure community colleges have free tuition forms for refugee students. I’m not sure if FAFSA applies to them. I told her I will look into it once I’m done with my finals. So once again, my heart goes out to them, there doesn’t seem to be much progress with them. But they are all happy the daughter has a job, even though she has to work long hours.
The last few times Nick and I have been visiting our family, we’ve been going Thursday afternoons instead of Sunday evenings. There’s really a difference between the types of interactions we have our family depending on what time we go, what day of the week it is, and who is there. Instead of everyone being there at the same time, people gradually come home, so it’s nice to spend some quality time with them one on one. Last week, when we first arrived it was just the parents, aunt, and the youngest daughter (20) who was there. Durga, the oldest daughter, was home but she was asleep in the bedroom because she had to go to work that evening at 11. To much of my surprise, they cooked for us for the first time! I was so happy because I had been wanted to try some of their food for the longest time because it always smells so good in their apartment. I forget what the dish is called but its like puffy rice with veggies and little bits of chips with chili pepper mixed in. It was seriously the hottest thing I have ever had and I couldn’t even finish the whole thing because my mouth was on fire even after I drank my weight in water. I was watching everyone else eat it without taking a sip. The Dad always loves to read his homework to us. He usually reads the same to paragraphs to us every week, but each week we go over it sounds a little bit better. I think Nick and I have memorized the paragraphs…… He is getting so much better at speaking and reading though. Later during our visit, their cousins stopped by. One of the cousins has a smart phone in which she let the 2nd youngest daughter use. She asked me if I had facebook and we spent a lot of time looking at pictures of each other and laughing! She even began to show us pictures of the camp where they lived. This was the first time they explicitly spoke of the camp. I felt really good about it, because I knew then they were beginning to trust us more. The Dad even told us about his brother who still lives in Bhutan as an English teacher at a University who has 4 daughters. Also, we discovered that the aunt who lives with them has two daughters that live in New York City and Iowa. We don’t know why she doesn’t live with them or any other details, but it was so nice to find out a little more about their history and family.
This past Thursday, Nick and I brought over the boxes of clothes that my parents had sent from my house. It was actually pretty funny trying to carry this huge box all the way from Loyola to their house off the Howard stop. We made it, though. Since Durga now works so much, each time we go we kinda have to figure out a way we’re going to get inside because their buzzer doesn’t work. Luckily, Nick yelled Govinda (the Dad’s name) and he heard us and buzzed us in. It was just him there because the kids were either working or at school, the Mom was shopping and the Aunt was at the doctors. It was nice have just the time with the Dad because it forced him to try to communicate with us. He really appreciated the clothes, at first he kept saying “No” and I thought that meant that he didn’t want the box, but I think he meant “You shouldn’t have done this….”. We worked with his homework again, reading the same couple paragraphs again, but then he would try to talk to us about something else from time to time. He mentioned his brother in Bhutan again, and kept trying to explain to Nick and I that he came from Bhutan, to Nepal, then to the United States. It was one of the first times that he actually spoke first about Bhutan. I wanted to ask him a question about Bhutan but I felt like maybe it would be too much, so I didn’t. When Nick went to the bathroom, he tried to ask me about my siblings. He was very interested. It was such a nice experience being able to have those interactions with him because we can communicate without fully communicating and I know that he is becoming more comfortable with me and he seems interested in my life. It’s a really really nice feeling. Eventually, the Aunt came home and she was so interested in the huge boxes of clothes. She kept going over to it and smelling the clothes, and trying to talk to me about it, but I didn’t understand what she was saying. For some reason, she kept asking for my help to put on the gloves that I brought over the last time. I think she likes when I help her with it, because she likes me a lot. We still don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her. The 2nd daughter and Mom came home at the same time and they made us that dish again! It wasn’t as spicy this time, so I was able to finish the whole thing! It’s sooo good, I need to find out the name. Also, the Dad cut up a pomegranate for us to each (which I had never had before). We ended up just hanging out with them in the living room and I told them that I wanted to get a picture of them to show my family at home. I got a group picture of us on self-timer (which came out so nice!). I’m going to print it out and put it in a little frame for them as a Christmas present. The Dad even explained to us some Hindu holidays that they celebrate. This was cool too because he had never talked about his religion before. Every week, we find out something new. It’s such a rewarding feeling because you can honestly see week to week how much your relationship grows and how much more comfortable they feel around you. It’s going to be sad not to see them for a month while I’m home for break.
Over thanksgiving break I found a game of candyland at the store and decided to get it for our family. Although the two boys probably wouldn’t appreciate as much as a battleship game or something more boy-ish, it would be an easy game to play with them. I was surprised by how much they enjoyed the game, but the best thing was when we left, they were offering the game back to us. We refused because we gave it to them as a gift. The oldest boy was so surprised and happy he held the game to his chest and did a little dance.
On the visit after that, the older boy was playing angry birds on my phone (something we just introduced to the family and they love it). He wouldn’t share with the younger boy, and pushed him out of the way so he could play the game. This was a little concerning to me because the older boy had been playing the game non-stop for over an hour and still refused to share. The little boy got very sad, and retreated into a corner of the room to cry. It broke my heart to see him so sad! I was also annoyed that the older brother had been so mean to his little brother. So, in retribution of this, and to make the little boy feel better, I pulled out their candyland game and played a few rounds with just me and the little boy. This cheered him up, but I still felt bad, the next time we visited, Liz and I vowed to either get both of our phones to have angry birds for both boys, or no one gets to play.
Today was a nice, relaxing visit with my family. We just sat around and caught up with each other. The mom brought out “momos” or dumplings for me and they were delicious! They were spicy and tasty. I asked my family about them and they said they had made everything from scratch and had been cooking since 2. Having made dumplings at home (not completely from scratch), I was incredibly impressed! My family seemed to definitely enjoy how much I enjoyed them.
My family had had some problems with their food stamps this past month and we spent a good amount of time discussing that. They seemed to have received only half of the amount that they usually do. I am hoping that half way through December, they will get the rest of the amount, but I can’t be entirely sure. I wish I knew more about the “system” to help get my family what they needed.
Along the lines of money issues, my family also asked me to help set up a bank account for them. The eldest daughter has been working for about a month at Popeye’s now and been receiving checks, but has not had anywhere to deposit them. To pay for rent and things, she has been asking her cousin with an account to pay and she has been owing him. I told her that I will look up various banks and their conditions for basic accounts, and get back with her by the end of the week so that we could go together and set up an account for her before I leave for break. I think that Chase might be the best bet simply because it would be the most convenient for the family. Does anyone else know what bank or accounts their family is using?
When I told my family that I would be leaving next Tuesday to go home for Christmas break, the whole family seemed to be very surprised. Even the mom and dad, who were watching TV and whom I am never sure are listening/understanding when I talk, looked over and said that they would miss me. I was very touched. I assured them that I would see them when I returned in January though. I plan to stay connected with this family for as long as I can