Living in a Tibetan host family
“This is Dorje. He’s a good friend of mine. He’s gonna be your host father… OK?”
After this short introduction by Gerry, I had to face my host parents for the first time, not speaking one word of Tibetan. To be perfectly honest, I knew the one phrase that everybody knows: Tashi delek! But it wasn’t really sufficient to interact with them on an everyday basis! Therefore, during the first few weeks, body language and my host sister’s English helped me to get acclimated.
However, day by day (or maybe I should say month by month) my Tibetan was getting better, and the conversation became a little bit more interesting during dinner. Because I was taking Tibetan language classes at the Shedra all day, dinner was really the main time my host family and I spent together.
The family consisted of my host father, Dorje, my host mother, Tsering, my host sister, Tenzin, and me. Being able to talk about what I did during the day, or why I was going out, were small victories against this crazy language (although sometimes the result seemed rather pathetic).
But in addition to the language, I’m going to remember a lot of simple things that I experienced in this family: the daily thukpa, butter tea every morning, cooking momos, the laughs when I was trying to speak in Tibetan, their devotion, their suffering over the situation in Tibet, and above all, their kindness to me.
Although I was quite happy to get my independence back after moving out at the end of the Summer Program, I remember those two months with my Tibetan family and I’m definitely looking forward to coming back…
~Adrien from Switzerland