ICO is coming to an end

Alondra Quiles - Brazil


September 11, 2016

It's 9:24 PM and tomorrow morning as I head out for language class at PUCPR my host father Ale will be heading out to go fishing for the week. And I sit here on my seven year old host sister Carolina's bed and am contemplating the fact that I will be finding out who my permanent host family will be and what city I will be living in where I will be continuing Portuguese classes as well as beginning my apprenticeship on Tuesday. I know that I should be super excited about it but in fact I'm scared and nervous because after spending about two weeks with my current host family, I have gained a relationship that I had never expected. 

At first, it was very difficult for me to understand them and to gain comfort in their home because all I wanted was to be surrounded by a family that made me feel like I belonged. It wasn't until my family and I experienced a conversation about the differences between our cultures and until we explained why things are the way that they are that I began to feel as though I finally belonged in this household.
I had to learn about why Brazilian families have maids doing their daily work and why certain lifestyles are lived. I had to accept the fact that I couldn't change a norm that has existed for some time here in a foreign country to what I know. But most importantly, I had to listen. And in the same way that I listened, I had to have my family listen to my perspective on cultural norms and accept that they are different from one another.
So as I sit here on this bed, I realize that within a family that I once felt an outcast to, they opened their home to me and took me in. They are the ones that helped make my first couple weeks in Brazil bearable and realizing that my father will be leaving tomorrow for the week when I leave their home Saturday actually saddens me because it feels as though a part of me will soon be stripped away. I have gained relationships here within this home that others may never experience. And it worries me that if I have gained acceptance and love within a family I have only lived with for two almost three weeks, the family I will have for seven months will only become even more difficult to say goodbye to.
So here is what I have left to say to friends and other fellows: Live every moment of your life the best you can because even when you feel completely alone and lost you are never truly alone. You are surrounded by a community of people and even those who you don't always meet eye to eye are there for you. Build relationships and don't be afraid because fear might just be the only thing stopping you from a life-long friendship. 

Alondra Quiles