Joking in Bahasa from Philly (by Brady Woods)

This a photo of my host family I was staying with for the previous 5 weeks. From left to right is Oliver (the baby), Kevin, Sandy, Trey (my roommate), Joy and I. Although I do not have a picture from the night I will be talking about, these five people made it a night I won’t soon forget.
On February 1st, Chinese new Year was celebrated across the globe, including in Philadelphia. I had no clue it was celebrated as widely as it was, but I am glad I had the opportunity to celebrate my first real Chinese new year with my host family. In the afternoon, everyone was coming home from work, quickly doing the laundry, and prepping for the night ahead. It was planned out that we would be eating with our extended host family in China Town. Around 6:30 pm, Kevin and Sandy wrangled Oliver into his coat, Joy changed into a polo, and they headed out to the restaurant. Trey and I were going a little later with Herman, Kevin’s father who lived with us. When we left the house, we went to pick up Herman’s sister who lived a few blocks away and we headed to the restaurant.
After helping Herman pay for parking online, we entered the second floor of a restaurant and the room smelled of cooked food and was full of people laughing and talking in Bahasa. Trey and I were welcomed by our host family’s cousins, uncles, and relatives who lived in the city. The night was a whirlwind, with Herman singing Karaoke and Trey and I meeting new people, and eating all sorts of new dishes. Joy and I would make jokes throughout the twelve course dinner of dishes such as duck, jellyfish, noodles and shrimp. Though we didn’t do a great job, everyone commended our efforts in learning Bahasa Indonesia and gave us some insight on what it would be like in Indonesia.
I won’t soon forget the hospitality shown to us that night and every other night we were in Philadelphia with our host family. That was not the only occasion where their whole extended family came together and accepted us as one of them. They especially enjoyed us attempting to handle some of their spicier dishes. While I may not have a home to open up to someone, what I do have is the power to choose kindness and openness towards others and I plan on striving to do more of that in the coming weeks in my placement in Sumba, Indonesia.