As soon as I boarded the bus, I began to think about my Tico family and what kind of people they would be like. Would they be outgoing or shy? I met Brenda, my new Tica mom, and knew that this family would do everything to make me feel comfortable while teaching me as much as they could about their own culture. It was not long until I began to recognize differences in family dynamics. Jose the youngest child, only 2 years old jumped into my arms as if he had known me his whole life. My abuela, Maria also opened her arms to me and began speaking to me as if I was a fluent Spanish speaker. I loved that she had so much confidence in my ability to quickly learn what she was so intently trying to tell me. The other two children, Paola and Alejandro, were more reserved going about their own work and allowed me to get settled in my new home. Immediately I noticed that way they played with each other, watching TV together and telling jokes. I would never expect to see two American children playing like this and it was refreshing to see them getting along so well, making it obvious that family played an important role in all of their lives.
In addition to family dynamics, it was obvious that these people lived in a world where material things did not matter to them. Although I expected this type of mentality when coming in to the program, I did not realize that this lack of need for material things would be replaced with other things such as singing, dancing and of course time spent with family members. The mentality is also present when I talk to the children about how much they value their education. Paola has shared her excitement with me about learning English which also struck me as different from the mentality of an average American thirteen year old girl.
I know that throughout the next four months, I will go through a wide range of emotions, from excitement, to adventure and homesickness. When I feel like this, I have to remind myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and to take advantage of the obstacles that have been put before me. When leaving for this adventure, someone gave me this quote and I could not agree more:
“The is one purpose in life and one only: to bear witness to and understand as much as possible to the complexity of the world – its beauty, its mystery, its riddles. The more you understand the more you look, the greater is your enjoyment of life and your sense of peace. That’s all there is to it. If an activity is not grounded in ‘to love’ or ‘to learn’ it does not have value.”- Cullen Pitler