Until now I’ve balked at the task of describing my host family and the relationship that has developed in our short time together. The phenomenon that occurred over two weeks – something of a fledgling love affair between an American college kid craving for a cultural connection and a family of four that knows little outside of the pueblo that has borne generations of its ancestors – is tough to believe, never mind to describe.

 

The situation was ideal. My previous knowledge of Spanish facilitated the transition from awkward lodger to embraced family member, but all credit must go to the Bautista Garcias. Social Entrepreneur Corps thrust me into the perfect home.

 

I knew it from the moment I arrived. Wilmer Enrique and Vilfred Obed, 10 and 8, frantically rushed to the door. Their father Luis quickly followed, wide smile and outreached hand at the ready, urging his two panting children to allow me in. Their mother Yolanda followed behind, quiet at this first introduction, but wearing an electric smile that demonstrated my welcome into her home more than any words could ever offer.

 

The first day there my Spanish failed me. Over dinner I couldn’t come close to demonstrating my appreciation for their generosity and honesty and infectious warmth in my second language. I am still struggling. My Spanish has steadily improved, but the extent to which they opened both their home and their hearts to a foreign stranger overwhelms me from the minute I awake each morning. I’m worried that my grasp for the language will never be sufficient to portray my gratitude.

 

“Con confianza” my host father kept repeating that first day, and throughout my first week in his home. “In confidence”. I had asked about the rules of the house, but found that there were none. Everything they owned was also mine, in confidence. No phrase better captures the quality, the “calidad”, of these people. Ever trusting, ever affectionate, ever selfless, ever generous. I did nothing to gain that first investment of faith. I am still vying to justly earn it.

 

The two previous host families I´d lived with in Sevilla and Buenos Aires were comprised of single mothers and children over 27. The stable presence of an amicable father and two younger children with whom to play futbol is an entirely new and invigorating experience.

 

This is a family in full bloom. There is no natural role for me to fill. Yet still, this family let this spoiled gringo into their home, the one they built with their own hands; in an offhand comment to a cousin just a week into my trip, Wilmer referred to me as his brother. Big brother, just like home, suits me fine.

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