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Author Topic: Host Family stories  (Read 6862 times)


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Host Family stories
« on: December 07, 2013, 07:21:02 PM »
It is my understanding that I will be staying with a host family during the first two months and possibly longer.

Does the Peace Corps do a good job selecting these families? 

I am anxious about moving in with another family, taking over part of their house and invading their space.  How can this work out well, it worries me. 

Also, is your stuff safe there. 

I would love to hear some of your home stay stories -- good and bad.

Offline Marion

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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2013, 07:26:42 PM »
My wife and I stayed with a 72 year old woman who lived alone.  Her husband spent all of his time away at their cattle post.  During our two months there our host family mother, Tebogo, would go away for weeks at a time to visit her husband so we were actually by ourself a lot.  We enjoyed the privacy, but it worked against us as far as learning the language went.  Living in close quarters with a family all jabbering away in some other language probably really helps you acquire the language.

I felt safe there.  Peace Corps rules required that they have a lock on the door with one key that you had. 

There were a few issue with others in our group.  One or two did have things stolen. For the most part everyone was pretty satisfied with their situation.
RPCV, Botswana (2011-2013)

Offline packgrl05

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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2013, 08:08:36 PM »
My first host family experience was shocking to me because they would perform exorcisms.  Peace Corps moved me to my second host family during training and they were wonderful to me!  They were very helpful in working with me on my language skills and giving me advice.  They made me feel like another member of their family. 


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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2013, 08:41:34 PM »
My training host family had the best intentions. However, they were farmers and would leave the house early in the morning and not return until late evening some days. The training host families were paid to prepare food for us and I would often come home from morning training to no lunch. In the end, after alerting my trainers and losing a significant amount of weight, PC made it possible for me to eat lunch and dinner at another home. My living conditions were good (considering) so I didn't move nor was my family hostile because of the issue. They were more embarrased and felt a bit ashamed for not being able to adequately take care of me. That was the first year PC had training in that village so they were still getting a handle on families and the families were still getting a handle on us.

Expect challenges but also be ready to respectfully advocate for yourself as an adult in the event that there is an issue. 


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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2013, 10:55:25 PM »
Ok. You will feel about 10 years old and your mother (host mother)  is taking care of you.  It is ok. Just go with it.  In some countries you will be there the whole 2.5 years. Again it is fine. It will all work out and there will be those fabulous Peace Corps moments you will cherish the rest of your life. Inshalla.


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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2013, 12:13:47 AM »
I guess if you are in your twenties being treated like you are 10-years old may be OK, but when you are in your 50s or 60s it sucks. Having to live with a host family when you are an older volunteer is akin to moving in with your children only you have less privacy and very little  say as to how daily life goes. In my opinion PC does a poor job of finding and placing PCVs in homestay environments (see my post on FB wall). So, be prepared for either a great experience or a really bad one. Oh, and don't be fooled into thinking your homestay environment will dramatically enhance your language skills, unless you are going to spend a great deal of time with your family. You will learn more from your counterpart, co-workers and HCN friends than from your host family. You are a renter for two years and most famiiies view you as just that and an additional source of income. Yes you will create a life-long bond, who wouldn't after living with someone for two years, but remember you will still be viewed as the "rich American" who is contributing a source of much needed income to a family. If you are an older volunteer be prepared to make many changes to your way of life and I doubt you will ever get rid of the feeling you are an imposition, especially if you have kicked your host family out of their bedroom so you can sleep there. It is a great, unusual experience and can really dis-focus you from your real purpose of being there - go with the flow it will help

Offline shawn

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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 03:21:35 AM »
Exactly, go with the flow.

Homestays around the world vary in pretty much every aspect. And yes, to some degree they will all have negative side effects.

Just remember to be flexible. Make the best of what you get, but DO talk to Post staff if you have an issue, big or small. Regardless of what you may garner from some stories, Volunteer safety and security is of the utmost importance to Staff.

if Peace Corps in your country is going to mandate Homestays, there isn't much you can do about it, so make the best of it.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline chebeler

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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2013, 02:07:08 PM »
My home stay family had seven children, two parents, and a three bedroom house. I had one of the bedrooms, and the PC requires that it be able to be locked. However, there were about 20 universal keys and if you had them all any lock could be unlocked. But I loved my time with my host family. The kids would giggle and help as I struggled with the language, my host mother kindly but firmly enforced some rules (I could not go outside to pee in the middle of the night, that is what the bucket is for). The secret of success, I think, is to just suspend your expectations and all but the most basic needs. If there is no one there to cook, well, there is food there and some cooking implements, and you can learn. The PC will give you a cookbook with easy recipes that use local ingredients. Peace Corps service requires you to be an extrovert of sorts - that is how you learn, serve, and flourish. You don't have to be the most popular, just open to meeting new people, to asking respectful questions about life there. I second completely the 'go with the flow' philosophy. You will have a fabulous time.

Offline PeaceCorps1

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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 07:48:28 AM »
I am hoping for the best with this. I'm going to see how the home stay works for me the first three months. I will still be in honeymoon mode so it should be a breeze. After that, I hope I can scout out the choices. On face value, I think I would prefer living alone, though.
"If it were not for the reporters, I'd tell you the truth"', President Chester A. Arthur

Offline RetiredFed

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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2014, 11:47:46 AM »
A good book that deals with the home-stay issue is Taxi to Tashkent.  Interesting what those PCVs did.

Offline RPCVro

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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2014, 05:16:21 PM »
I got exactly what I requested with my PST host family. There is a huge benefit to having food ready on the table when you get home from a long day of training. Not to mention it gets you your first glimpse of what "average" life might be like for the people with whom you'll be living/working. I heard of a volunteer who's host mother gave her a bath...without really asking first. Peace Corps will likely have a housing coordinator for training, but the site host families are identified by the host community or the host organization with a check by Peace Corps' Safety and Security Officer. Each country will have different requirements for volunteers' housing. You'll get asked about housing preference during your site placement interview with your program manager...but it's probably not going to be one of the things they will strongly consider. You're expected to be flexible, and if you accept an invitation knowing that a host family is possible, if not likely, then you have to be ready for it to happen whether you really like it or not. As others have said, there can be issues with being viewed as a "cash cow" while others form a genuine bond. In many PC countries, the locals themselves do not live alone and completely independent of anyone...so you shouldn't really expect to get special treatment. However, if your housing situation violates a safety/security measure, Peace Corps will move you ASAP. I knew 2 female volunteers who were made to feel uncomfortable by a male in the household, and they were moved within 24 hours.

Offline Steve S

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Re: Host Family stories
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2014, 08:58:39 AM »
The mutual benefit stories of host families and PCV's vary widely.  PCV's and the host families I knew were pleased or knew almost immediately if there were going to be "issues" (such as a mismatch) created by some well intentioned but unprofitable decisions by the sponsors or hosts. Expect some passing "grass is greener" thoughts in comparison to other PCV's landlords and neighborhood society, (whether homestay or independent apartment or house) during service. Both my training and permanent host family had housed volunteers before. In part these locations were chosen with input from former or current volunteers. At times, as in any living arrangements the  details of "home economics" can get complicated, with in Country PC staff also often facilitating the paperwork, payments, etc., usually involving a process of negotiated trade-offs not "win-win" situations. So, the story of my introduction to the culture in training was revised by the different  views and interests of later permanent host family and "villagers" elsewhere. The plot of my housing story scripted in part by local PCVs with one family allied with her work site, alienated my work site's kinship groups with their conflicting socio-economic interests. My families were excellent hosts in regard to cooperative arrangements for food, access to portions of social/political networks, and insuring my personal safety. They allowed me reasonable privacy and freedom to improve my service and details related to my personal comfort. I was encouraged during training to "bond" with my hosts and later to make my living arrangements pleasantly rewarding within local "standards". The everyday flow of this soap opera and the aftermath was much messier and more engrossing.