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Author Topic: Home-stay  (Read 9091 times)

Offline amrowe

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Home-stay
« on: November 21, 2013, 11:52:40 AM »
I know that during training PCV's stay with local families for 10 weeks. I am definitely looking forward to this experience and learning from my host family. I also have heard that you stay with a host family for the first 6 months that you are at your project site. Once again this doesn't seem like a hinderance but an opportunity. However in my nomination it mentioned that I am expected to spend the entire 27 months of service with a host family. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Does anyone know if this is accurate? I would love to hear other people's experiences living with a host family for an extended period of time.

Offline Kate Schachter

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2013, 04:33:57 PM »
You're getting lots of mixed messages about homestay! Maybe it depends on the country. I can tell you about my experience in Ghana 2004-07.

I had a homestay placement for the 10 weeks of training. Once I went to my site, I had my own house in the village. But I also had a counterpart, a person selected by the Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD), to help me through the cultural hurdles of my new community. My counterpart, Bra Ntow, as he was called by everyone, was a wonderful man, with a wife and 2 small children at home, and another living with relatives in Accra. I ate dinner with them 2-3 times a week. However, I know that the previous PCV at my site ate with them every night. I prefer to do my own cooking, even though Sister Patience was an excellent cook.

Not everyone gets their own house; it all depends on the location and the job. Some have a room at the school grounds (teachers). Some might have a hut in a compound. Some might have an attached room at a home. But all are supposed to have a private bedroom and kitchen, and a personal toilet/bathing space of some type. Those rules get stretched more or less, depending on the situation.

If you don't get along with your counterpart, you can either request a new one (formally), or select a new one (informally). There are advantages to both approaches. Talk about this openly with your APCD when your site is selected.
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Offline Amelia.Plant

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2013, 12:52:04 AM »
In Botswana, we only do home-stays for Pre-Service training.  But I have heard other sites do a home-stay for the entirety of service.  Perhaps someone on the Forum experienced that and can give you a bit more information.  Home-stay may also mean different things.  I lived on a family compound but had my own house for my 2 years.  My home-stay in training was literally one bedroom in someone else's house, but sharing all common spaces.  So you may be able to find out more information about what home-stay means within that context.
Amelia
RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013

Offline shawn

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2013, 01:09:33 AM »
The definitions of community-based training and home stay to vary widely by post. Here in Rwanda, all Volunteers live with a host family during training, where they have a room inside a family's house. After that, I'm pretty sure every Volunteer gets there own house, but sometimes they're in a family's compound or sharing a larger house with coworkers. I'd suggest asking your recruiter if they know, or if you know your nominated country/region, ask around those communities.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2013, 07:19:58 AM »
To back up how it varies by personal circumstance, even within a single country - in my situation in Ghana I lived in a compound house that was a U-shaped structure with a bunch of small, unconnected rooms, each with a door to the center 'U'.  My 'house' was two of the rooms (one for a small kitchen, one a bedroom); the rest of the rooms were taken by other families.

There were about 10 rooms total, and while technically not a homestay, it was living with other families for the whole two years.

And, hey Kate! :)

Jeff.
Ghana 03-05
Jeff
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Matt

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2013, 07:54:39 AM »
In Peru volunteers are required to live with home stay families for the full term of their service.  This helps with cultural/community integration, language, and general loneliness.  It's often the highlight of volunteer's services to spend time with families, as that's also an 'in' to the rest of the community.  Situations vary, as sometimes the volunteer is a regular member of the family, other times they do their own thing. 

In my experience, it worked out great.  My family was ok with me coming and going as needed and was used to me not being around during most of the day or gone for a stretch of days during and got used to my Americanisms as time went on...i.e. wanting to read or watch a movie in my room.  At the same time, I would make sure I spent time with them, even if it meant just sitting around outside the store.  We celebrated the good and the bad times together, so I really came away with another family.  We still keep in touch by phone and facebook. 


Robin

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2013, 08:01:19 AM »
Definitely depends on country and site.  In Ukraine housing is difficult to come by. I live with a pensioner and have two private ( well almost private ) rooms.  It is a great situation.  I am learning a lot about gardening, beekeeping, general life here and working on the language  ( though he speaks a different dialect than what I studied).  I have really come to respect this man and also like that he watches out for me and is slowly reaching out and inquiring about my life and culture.  I also have become close friends with his daughter and family.  It is an experience I wouldn't trade.  There are some hinderances… he doesn't like it if I am out late or gone for too many days, I can't have guests, he worries about having the lights on after 10 PM, etc.  I think this is all a part of the PC experience and being flexible to different life situations; whether culturally or simply not what we would prefer or do. I wouldn't trade this for living on my own.

Offline nickmotwani

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2013, 08:10:03 AM »
Starting this year in Macedonia, you'll be in a homestay all 27 months.

Leigh

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2013, 10:30:27 AM »
In Azerbaijan, you stay with a host family during your Pre-Service Training (PST) period, which lasts ten or eleven weeks. When you move to your permanent site, you again live with a host family for the first four months. After those homestays, you are eligible to move out into independent housing, but it is never guaranteed that you will be able to find something suitable and/or available. Some volunteers choose to stay with their host families for the entire time they are at site. Others get into independent housing at the first opportunity. It all varies, not only on which country you are in, but also which community within that country.

Offline amrowe

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2013, 12:30:21 PM »
Thanks for all of the info and advice everyone. I am nominated for Nicaragua. It says on my nomination assignment that I will be living with a host family for the duration of service. I've had a homestay experience before for 3 months and I really loved it. I am open to an extended homestay experience, but I have to admit that the situation Kate Schachter described sounds the most appealing to me.
I like the idea of cooking for myself every so often, and being able to invite friends in the community over to dinner at my humble abode. If I do end up with a homestay for the entirety of my service I will look at it as an adventure and a valuable opportunity to learn from them and enjoy their company.

Offline Amelia.Plant

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 05:44:17 AM »
Sounds like a great attitude!
Amelia
RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013

Offline wreloise

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 12:37:47 PM »
Thanks for the information.  I plan to appreciate my host family, I hope they like me  ;D
Eloise-Born to Serve

Harry

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2013, 03:20:56 AM »
Home stay is MANDATORY for all PCVs in Macedonia for the full 27 months. I for one feel older volunteers should be given a choice. The lame reason we were first given was home stay enhances language and cultural immersion. When the CD found this wasn't working they quickly changed to "it is a safety issue", can't argue with that - if you are in your twenties and a female. Many of the older volunteers do not like the home stay policy as it is like moving in with your kids. Many of us have lived on our own for many years and now have to be accountable to a family. "Where are you going?" "When will you be home?" "Why don't you eat more?" "Do you feel OK today?"and a 100 other irritating questions. Yes they may be concerned about your overall well being, but after all I am an adult and not one of their children. I want to cook for myself, eat what and when I want, go to the bathroom 10-times during the night without waking the household up, not listen to husband and wife fight, not have the family kids go through my personal stuff and walk around in my underwear. The reality is older volunteers are not as concerned or prone to safety issues as younger ones, we are mature, responsible and able to fend for ourselves. Most of our interaction will come from our counterparts and their friends and not from the infrequent events attended with host families. Language skills will not be improved with the once-a-day meal with the TV on and no conversation.

We were told by our Country Director the Peace Corps is moving to mandatory home stay, wherever possible, for all volunteers. I think once the word gets out it will seriously discourage older volunteers from applying. Whoever the genius was that thought this was a good idea has obviously never been in a home stay situation. Sounds good on paper, but in reality it SUCKS!

Offline shawn

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2013, 03:47:06 AM »
@Harry, while I in general agree with you, I have to disagree with you on a few points:

First off, every PCV is an adult. While I would also love to say we're all mature, responsible, and can fend for ourselves, I'm not sure that that's true, or at least not that black and white. Yes, Peace Corps gets it's far share of Volunteers who are less mature, more starry-eyed and idealic about the world and their post. That said, if a PCV cannot fend for themselves (in a situation where an older Volunteer can), then should they really be in Peace Crops to begin with?

Here in Rwanda, our Volunteers do Homestay and CBT during training only. When they move to site, they either live in their own house or in a compound with co-workers or the like. Homestay during PST is highly effective for us because, on that limited scale, it DOES increase language and cultural understanding, and IS a ton safer than the alternatives. But if a Post's Volunteers still REQUIRE a Host family for the purposes of Language and Culture integration, then (in my mind at least), that Post is failing at PST.

There are some posts where it's impractical for PCVs to have their own home (mostly in larger urban areas), and while those are few and far between, that pool is growing.

My point here is that, yes, 27 months of a homestay would suck in many ways, and I'm sure it sucks a little more if you're not in your 20's. But trust me when I say that NO PCV likes to be asked 100 irritating questions, listening to locals fight in the bedroom (or 'fight' in the bedroom), and most people would rather have the freedom to walk around in their underwear than not. But your comment makes it sound like Volunteers who are not arbitrarily 'older' (30+? 40+? 50?) are inherently less able to fend for themselves, integrate into their community, and be safe.

Don't get me wrong; I agree with you 100% about the choice of homestay (and I HIGHLY doubt PCHQ would ever mandate homestays world-wide for the whole 27 months). However, it's not just 'older' Volunteers who deserve the ability to choose their home conditions. After all, I've met some 40 year-olds who we're less mature than a college student, and some 21 year-olds that act the age of my grandparents. Blanket statements have never applied well to us Volunteers.

It's probably also worth noting that many PCVs go through homestay and love it. We're all a bit different, and that's the beauty of the Peace Corps Volunteer system. But hey, maybe I'm a little biased. After all, I am a 20-something


Ps, welcome to the Forum!
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Offline Marion

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Re: Home-stay
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2013, 11:38:17 AM »
I agree with both of you.   My wife and I lived on our own after training.  If I had to home stay for all 27 months I probably would have gone crazy and gone home early.  The two months of homestay were ok, but at my site I wanted independence and privacy.

Shawn is right though.  This is not an old-young issue.  I am sure the younger volunteers don't like it any more than the older volunteers.  I also don't think the younger volunteers need it any more than the senior volunteers. 

As for security issues, are you safer in a home-stay?  Possibly, but maybe it should be the choice of each individual volunteer.  If a country is so unsafe that they have to home-stay, maybe the Peace Corps should not be there?

Marion
RPCV, Botswana (2011-2013)