I love my host family. I don’t know who briefed them about crazy American ways, but they did a really good job. Unlike the other families, mine gives me my privacy. They let me sit in my room for hours to study (since training is like attending school 9 hours a day, 6 days a week and I always have a ton of homework/readings), which I often use as alone time and instead read or write in my journal. In fact, my host father often gives me a thumbs-up when I head off to study. This is very atypical of most traditional Paraguayan families. The concept of “alone time” or privacy doesn’t really exist in
I love how my family takes care of me. In many ways, it’s like being a 5 year-old again. Not only do I not do any work in the house (though I’d like to and when I have time, sy has been showing me how to wash my clothes by hand), but they treat me like their child; this despite the fact that my mom is only 5 years older than I am (she’s 27 and túva is 37). In the mornings, they walk me to our gate and wish me good luck. I always give sy kisses on both cheeks before taking off. I return home for lunch, and if I have training in Guarambare, she packs me lunch. When I return home in the evenings, they ask me what I learned. It’s like I’ve regressed to the state of a kindergartener, but honestly I love it. After a year of never being at home (which I’m sure my mom can tell you plenty about), it’s nice to be at home in the evenings and sleep at 9 or .
I’ve been talking to some of the other volunteers about their host families, and I really think I lucked out (actually, all 6 of us in my community have great families). The Muni volunteers have super nice houses, but their families have completely different lifestyles. One of my friends, with whom I ate lunch the other day and who is also vegetarian, was complaining that her family doesn’t give her enough vegetarian food, specifically vegetables. They usually just her one of the side dishes, and she never feels like there’s enough variety. My host mom specially prepares vegetarian food for me. On most nights, that’s all we eat. Even when there’s not meat, the main meal is vegetarian. Most of the Muni volunteers complained about how much time their families spend in front of the TV. They want more quality family time. In contrast, I always have quality family time. More than I can handle in fact. My parents spend hardly any time in front of the TV; they always have plenty of time for me and are always ready to and enthusiastic about spending (I prefer the Spanish word compartir…you don’t spend time with people, you share time with them) time with me. In a way, the Muni families are much more like the modern American families, each member is independent and leading his or her own life. But my family, and the families of the other RED volunteers, is a much more traditional Paraguayan family. That’s what I came to Paraguay to experience, not the comforts of home.