As a Peace Corps Trainee, I am required to stay with a host family to help me integrate in the community, practice my bahasa Indonesian, and get accustomed to both culture and religion here in Indonesia. This isn’t the first time I am staying with a host family; I stayed with a host family during my study abroad in French Polynesia back in 2014. So I kind of had an expectation of what it would be like. Of course living with host family will always be scary at first, then you get used to it and love it. Well in some cases maybe hate it.
I am not the first Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) that have stayed with my host family. Last year another PCV, ID10, stayed with my family and he said that he enjoyed it. My host family here in Kediri, our site for our Pre-Service Training (PST), is nothing alike to my family back in the States. It’s very interesting to see the similarities and differences between my Indonesian family and my family back home.
Both of my host parents here are retired. My Bapak (dad) used to be a driver before retiring four years ago while my Ibu (mom) is a house wife. Although both of my parents do not speak English, I really do not have trouble communicating with them. They use a lot of hand gestures and basic household bahasa Indonesia verbs, so I can understand them (for the most part.) The trouble comes when I have to reply because I am still having trouble with my sentence structure when it comes to bahasa Indonesia even though the language is SO similar to Tagalog. My Ibu however do not speak bahasa Indonesia. She speaks Javanese, a different dialect. She understands my bahasa Indonesia but when she replies it’s in Javanese and I’m always dumb founded. Haha. I honestly think that the main source of her happiness is to see me really full. She loves cooking for me and 90% of my interaction with her is her asking me if I’ve eaten, if I want to eat, or what I want to eat. The 10% is her asking me if I want to shower.
Another member of my family that I have a daily interaction with, and whom I talk to regularly, is my host sister-in-law Nunuk. Nunuk works as a pharmacist at a police hospital here in Kediri. She lives with Bapak and Ibu. I eat breakfast and dinner with her most days. Nunuk helps me practice my bahasa Indonesia since most of our conversion is in bahasa Indonesian. She speaks English too! She’s not fluent but it’s enough that I can understand her when she speaks it. Nunuk’s husband, my host brother is only home during the weekends because he works in Surabaya (about 4hours drive from Kediri) at a factory. It’s nice to have him home because he’s another person I can talk to in English and he’s funny. He cooks too! I also have a younger sister who also lives in Surabaya because that’s where she attends college. She comes home every other weekend. Although she attends college, her English is very limited so my interaction with her are mostly in bahasa Indonesian.
So that’s my Bapak, Ibu, sister-in-law, brother, and sister. I have two kaponakan (nephews) that are always in my house. Firman is two years old while Azam is five years old. Obviously they do not speak bahasa Indonesian. Firman is still scared of me, but Azam says hi to me whenever he sees me. Oh and laugh at me whenever he’s with his friends. Honestly I could not ask for a better host family. They make sure I am always fed even though since I got here, two weeks ago, all that they’ve been feeding me is fried tempe, fried tofu, sautéed vegetables, and krupuk. And when I say “all they’ve been feeding me” I meant every word of that. EVERY. MEAL. EVERY. DAY. I told them I don’t really eat rice too so they thought that was very bizarre. Apparently over here, you have not eaten unless you’ve eaten rice. So according to them, I never eat!
I cannot wait to get to know them more! Tomorrow, Sunday 2 April 2017, my Ibu is going to teach me how to make peye! My favorite Indonesian snack! I can’t wait!