Homestay Weekend in Langa by JoJo Little
Ever since I got home people have been asking me how my homestay was and the only word I can think to answer with is “insane.” Insane because I experienced something I never thought I would be able to in this lifetime. The family I stayed with consisted of a mother named Lindi (41), a daughter named Ria (15), a daughter named Wanga (5), and a son named Riolio (2). The family was extremely welcoming and accommodating to my stay in their home. Amongst what I guess to be one of the most underprivileged families in the homestay program, they did an amazing job making their house a home. I never once felt uncomfortable or as if I was infringing on their space. Furthermore, they made sure that I was consistently fed and entertained which were aspects that were really important to my experience. I learned what it was like to find entertainment in the face of limited resources. With no money or desire to leave the community, the people of Langa have days filled with laughter and activity. I also experienced what it was like to eat meals under a constrained budget. The cuisine my family prepared for me was both unique to Africa and unique to what they could afford and liked to eat. As a healthy eater, the task of eating everything that was handed to me was a difficult feat but one I found easy to achieve once I decided that I wanted my experience to be wholesome and reflective of the lives of my homestay family.
It required a lot of energy to release myself from what I normally do every day, what I normally eat, and who I normally interact with but once I did a wave of surrealism followed and I was able to just be a person living in Langa. By actively forgetting that I was a visitor to the community, I was able to succumb to their lifestyle. It ended up being the most rewarding thing I could ever do for myself. At first it was difficult to be on someone else’s time but once I discovered that I had no choice but to go with the flow, I really enjoyed myself. My Saturday consisted of watching the youth rugby team for a bit, walking around Langa, trying sheep’s face and authentic African beer, and attending a braai. My Sunday consisted of a two hour long Roman Catholic mass, grocery shopping, and watching a hockey game. These activities helped me to understand the art of Langa and the authentic life of my homestay family.
Although there were times when I felt uncomfortable and times where I wish things had gone a little differently, at the end of the day I would not change a single thing about what I experienced. I am so grateful it happened the way it did and that I can carry the memories with me for the rest of my life. To make matters even better, my homestay mom and I exchanged our emails and cell phone numbers and I am looking forward to the time our worlds collide again.