Goshen students met their Lima host families on Friday after a day spent touring downtown Lima.
The students prepared to meet their host parents and siblings by reviewing information about their families, including the locations of their homes, and studying (and practicing) Peruvian greetings and farewells. Celia, our study coordinator, served as the expert in residence, instructing students in how women greet women (kiss alongside the cheek), women greet men (kiss alongside the cheek) and men greet men (handshake) — and in all cases, hugs may be part of the greeting as well.
Parents began arriving soon after the bus delivered us to the Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Buen Pastor).
For many students, it’s both an exciting and anxious time, sitting alongside each other on the stage of the main hall at Buen Pastor, wondering who will be picked up next. And then, What to say? How to say it?
Some parents left their host children no time to wonder. When Trevor’s host mother arrived, she called out from across the room, “Trevor!”
Some parents showed early flashes of humor. When Frances’ host father offered to help carry her bags, she said, “Are you sure?” He responded, “I may be going on 60, but I’m not an old man!”
The combination of students studying sign language and Spanish added interest to the introductions. Danielle and Jessica need not have worried about their grasp of Spanish when they met their host sister, one of three sisters in the family who are deaf. Within seconds, they were communicating, finding common ground in signs.
Just before Max’s host mother ushered him out the door, she whispered to us the refrain of all the parents, spoken or unspoken: “Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of him.”
Students quickly gathered their belongings, posed for photos and then headed home, some by bus, others by taxi. They’ll return to Buen Pastor on Monday morning, for lectures followed by language classes.