Friday, February 10, 2012

Student Post: Celiz Aguilar on Homestays!

The Gift of Hospitality
by Celiz Aguilar

Without a doubt, Angel had it, and that gift of hospitality was demonstrated countless times by this awesome woman of God. This past weekend, Alyssa and I had the opportunity to stay with an Indian family and experience daily life as they lived it. We stayed with the Jebaseelan family and spent most of the weekend with just Angel as her husband and daughter spent Saturday at a wedding reception several hours south. The entire weekend experience, like the majority of the trip, was somewhat foreign but, at the same time, felt relatively normal.

Friday night was spent at their apartment, getting to know one another before eating a late dinner together (In case you weren’t aware, Indians often eat dinner past 9 PM and are often shocked to find out that we eat dinner between 5-7 PM.) After Angel returned from dropping of her family at the train station, we all had a really great conversation about relationship dynamics, marriages in India, and how the older generations feel about some of the changes their culture is experiencing. Arranged marriages are the norm here, but the younger generations are trending towards “love marriages,” however this can only happen if the parents agree to the union. This tends to worry the older generations since they feel as though the parents know better and can pick a better match for their children.

This conversation gave Alyssa and I a lot to think about and we sincerely appreciated Angel’s willingness to talk about this aspect of her culture. The next morning she cooked us Bombay Toast (the Indian version of French Toast but BETTER!) and we headed off into town. Angel took us to a museum and to the local zoo. Both were within walking distance of BACAS, our college, but we simply hadn’t had the chance to either place.
Panorama of the zoo
Angel also treated us to Domino’s for lunch because she knew that we would enjoy pizza. While we were waiting for our taxi, Angel bought us sugar cane juice from a roadside vendor. I was a little bit nervous about drinking the juice (during our health seminar during orientation, we were warned to exercise caution when eating from street vendors) but I was so thankful for Angel’s generosity that I drank it and completely loved the taste!  
The sugar cane vendor. How perfect is the "Study Abroad" umbrella??
The vendor put the sugar can through the grinder several times and squeezed all the juice out of the cane, then added lemon and ginger during the end of the process to give it added flavor. It ended up tasting a lot like lemonade.

After our outing, we got home, “took rest” (the Indian version of a nap), and then got ready to go to the Don Moen concert. Angel had to stay home to take care of the family dogs, but Ms. Sheela Jon, a department head at BACAS and coincidentally Angel’s good friend, met us at the concert. And since Angel knew that we would be gone for several hours, we were sent with snacks and drinks, and specific ones that we had casually mentioned that we liked earlier throughout the day. We had been so blessed by her hospitality that we decided to buy her the newest Don Moen CD.
Rocking out at the Don Moen Concert
On Sunday, we went to a Tamil church service in the morning, came back, had lunch, and played with Joanna, Angel’s daughter who had returned from the wedding, before we headed back home to do homework.

It was so great to be in a home and experience daily life with Angel. In many ways, it was very normal to be home, eating with a family, watching movies, and enjoying the weekend in the city. But the food, dynamics, and pace of daily life all differed in various ways. I don’t think I could express to Angel and her family how truly grateful I am for her hospitality. I can, however, strive to treat others with the same love, hospitality, and generosity that we had been treated with.  
Text and photos by Celiz Aguilar, ISP Social Media Intern Extraordinaire.

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