Going into my first visit with the family, I had a mix of emotions. The first time we were scheduled to meet my partner and I could not make it. When that happened, I was really disappointed because I felt it was a bad start. We finally were able to reschedule the meeting and we met at out mentors’ apartment not too far away from campus. We met with the kids first, our mentor thought it would be a god idea to meet with them then meet with the parents when we took the kids home. There were four kids in the apartment but not all of them were the actual children of the family we were partnered up with only one of them. The other three children were either niece/nephew or friend. That first day we met the kids we played Rock Band and they loved playing with cellphones and the Internet. We later took them back to their home and met the parents and the grandmother.
We visit our family every Friday for about two to three hours. During that time we interact we mostly just hang out and interact with the kids and try to connect with the parents. At first, we make sure that the kids have finished their homework, if they have not we help them. If they are finished with homework we can all go to the park or simply play with them at their house. My partner and I learned how to play “rocks”. The kids taught us how to play the game rocks that they would play in Nepal. It was fun even though I was not so good at it. I am really competitive but it in this case I just tried to not be because the kids were pros. My partner and I went home and wanted to practice playing rocks so that next time we wouldn’t be so bad. We also try to interact more with the adults but that is more of a challenge.
The connection between the kids and myself is getting better every time. They are getting used to us and that we are good people with good intentions. We do different activities and learn different things about them each time we go over, which is nice. The kids are young, the ages range from first grade to sixth grade. They are so funny and that is refreshing because it makes things easier. The adults are the mom, dad, and the grandmother. The father is pretty quiet but always greets with a hi and a smile. The mother is a little more talkative and we connected with her on our last couple visits. She taught my mentors and partner how to braid hair in a fishtail braid. We told her than my parent had learned how to braid hair because of her she seemed happy. We talked about our families with her and that was the first time we heard her speak English. She feeds us half the time we go but sometimes I feel ad because it’s late and I do not want to eat or I have plans to go out but we manage. The grandmother doesn’t really talk to us, sometimes she seems kind of worried about my partner and I. Her facial expressions do not look so positive but I understand. I am a stranger and elders could be harder to deal with.
Our mentors are such great help. There are three other girls that go with us to visit the family and it is nice to have them around. They know the family better and it is an easier transition with them in the picture. One of the mentors is from the same place as the family and speaks the language fluently. The parents usually go for her to translate between us. At first, it was a little harder to make the connection with the kids because they were more accustomed to being with them and they were more comfortable with them than us. The connection was not forced immediately like it would have been it we didn’t have the mentors but I feel that was okay. The kids have their own pace to learn about us and they have become more comfortable with us pretty quickly. Having the mentors go with us also took away some of the awkwardness and weirdness that could have been present if we were alone with the family. The mentors give us insight on what is going on with the family so we are aware of what is going on instead of going in blind into the situation. With that insight, we know how to act according to the situation. The mentors are very nice and very helpful.
In the book, Mary Pipher talks about her hometown in Nebraska. She says that she was only used to seeing people like her and was never exposed to different cultures or situations. I thought this was interesting. I thought how could a person be so unaware of what is going on but the times are different. The more I though about the more I realized how many people are like that, maybe on different levels but the same situation. For example, I attended a high school where the student body was 100% Hispanic. My community and the people I interacted with on a daily basis were for the most part Mexican/Hispanic/ Latino like myself. Not that I wasn’t aware of other cultures but I wasn’t completely exposed to them either; in a certain way I was like Mary Pipher in the story.
The story of her helping the refugees was great. It goes to show how amazing relationships could be with the refugee families. Refugees need more than just help from the person but also the friendship. This is a lesson for people helping out a refugee family because sometimes people forget that these are human beings in which we can be friends with; they just aren’t people that need our assistance. In the book, it also shows how diverse a family can be. Not all members have the same feels and they might all might be going through different phases in like the sisters she was helping.