Yesterday (Saturday) morning, all of us students gathered together to have a meeting about our host family placements and discuss what the next two weeks living with these families would be like. We were all very anxious to find out about our host families but they continued to keep us in suspense until the end of the meeting. We were each given a bag of food containing vegetable oil, salt, tea, and rice to give to our host families as it was explained to us that it would be impolite to arrive without a gift. Finally, after much discussion and many questions, we were each given a half sheet of paper containing information about our families. The families had provided us with their names, children’s name, occupations, and phone number. In addition, the families had written little notes to us on the back of the sheet. It was very sweet and made all of us even more anxious to meet our families.
We were dismissed, collected our luggage, and sat around waiting for our families to pick us up. We waited and waited and waited for what felt like many hours although we were only sitting there waiting for about one hour as the host families were told to come and pick us up around 12 noon but our meeting had ended around 11am. The first host family arrived and we all applauded as the student embraced his host mother. This occurred about half a dozen more times before my host mother arrived. Like the other host mothers, she brought me a kanga and tied it around my waist. It was very pretty – brown and off white with flowers on it. The remaining students clapped as I hugged my host mother and the man who arrived with her.
Initially I was not sure whether or not the woman was actually my host mother as she appeared much younger than the other mothers. We walked to the car and started chatting. I discovered that the woman was Judy, the name listed as my host mother, and the man was her brother in law. From the sheet that I was given, I knew that Judy had two daughters named Wendy and Stephanie but I didn’t know their ages. I inquired about this and learned that Judy’s daughters, my sisters were three years old and eight years old. This made me very excited. I was also told that Judy’s sister in law, Paris lived with the family.
We drove along the familiar roads as Judy told me about her schooling as she is currently attending beauty school. She asked about my trip so far and was very impressed to learn that I had already been in Kenya for three weeks and in Africa for about four months. It didn’t take too long to get to the house. I was super excited, especially when I saw Wendy and Stephanie standing outside, waiting for us to arrive. The girls were absolutely adorable. They both had their hair braided with pink and white beads at the ends and three little braids in the front as bangs. They were seriously the cutest things ever. Stephanie was quite shy at first. Her father explained to me that night that she had never met a muzungu (white person) before. Wendy was very friendly and was so excited that I was at her house. Judy took me inside, showed me around the house, and showed me where I would be sleeping.
After the tour, I sat in the living room with my family. Judy put on some nature documentary for us to watch but none of us were very focused on it.
Wendy was very determined to help me learn Swahili. She brought out her Swahili school book and started teaching me all sorts of random words. I told her that I would get my notebook so that I could write all the words down and practice them. She taught me the numbers and told me that I should repeat them five times to help me remember them. I could immediately tell that she was a brilliant girl. It is not every eight year old that can teach a foreigner their language so well. She would read the words to me, tell me their meaning in English, and then have me repeat the word. We went through her entire Swahili book and then I asked her to write down some of the words for me to practice. She wrote them so neatly, with the English meanings next to them. She reminded me a lot of Lux, the girl I nannied for last school year. Both Wendy and Lux are very intelligent girls who are extremely mature for their age.
After our Swahili lesson, I asked Wendy to show me around the neighborhood. She showed me where the other members of the family lived and some shops in town. We then walked back to the house and played soccer with a very deflated soccer ball. I got to talking with one of the neighbors, named Sam. He is about 24 years old and works as a camera man at the local television station, NTV. We talked about school, life in America, and his goal of attending school in America and working for CNN. As it gets dark early here, I returned home around 6pm.
Following classes the next day, I taught Wendy some card games. Similarly, she attempted to teach me a card game but we both gave up as the game was super confusing to me. We did our homework at the table together before going outside to play ball. I had given my sisters, Wendy and Stephanie a beach ball to play with the previous day and they absolutely loved it. Wendy was so excited to play pass with me outside with the ball. Stephanie joined in and just kinda ran around, attempting to get to the ball before Wendy or I.