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Perhaps the reason that I am not entirely consumed with homesickness and missing my family is because of the great one I've been adopted into here! I have had the privilege to spend time with both sides of the family, paternal and maternal grandparents, aunts, cousins and friends. Everyone has been and continues to be so very warm and welcoming.

Chinese has different words for both sets of grandparents. Paternal grandparents are Nai Nai (Grandma) and Ye Ye (Grandpa). Maternal are Waipo (Grandma) and Waiguo (Grandpa). Both sets of my adopted grandparents are extraordinarily nice, and dangerously good cooks!


Food brings family together, and I have enjoyed several meals with extended family members. When Mei Mei asked me if I liked seafood and I replied 'yes', I was thinking typical cocktail shrimp and fish. Was I ever surprised when eel, turtle, jelly fish and whole shrimp was served. The eel was delicious! I couldn't get enough. When I finally gathered up the courage to try the turtle, I was not as satisfied...They thought it was funny that I had never had turtle before, and watched me closely as I very cautiously gave it a go...The jellyfish was crunchy-one bite was enough. And the shrimp had whiskers that tickled me throughout the meal-in a goofy way they stared at me with their beady little black eyes...But the food was indeed delectable.

I really enjoy the customary communal eating style that is so widely practiced here. Dishes are set out on the table, and each person has their own personal bowl of white rice and a pair of chopsticks-and its each man for his own! Everyone digs in and takes food straight from the serving dish right into the mouth! In the states, when a child is younger, its pretty normal to cut up food into little pieces and place it in front of them on their highchair tray, right? Ha, well my host mom seems to feel the need to do essentially the same for me...whenever we eat she always gets out an extra bowl and puts in it some food from the dishes that are harder to reach-farther from me. I'm the only one at the table who gets the special treatment, and I'm pretty sure its because she knows I'm still working on my chopstick skills! At dinner, I saw Nai Nai eyeballing the chicken feet, and looking at me-I could feel her contemplating sticking them in my kiddy bowl... so I politely shook my head and said "wo bao le!"-I'm full! The best taste of home came next, however, as sweetcorn was served as an after dinner treat! It made me think of sitting on the deck with everyone, enjoying a summertime supper!

Despite lacking beautiful jet black hair and the creamy skin of my family members, I still fit in pretty well. Everyone giggles at my attempts to use my Chinese, and yet helps me correct and perfect my tones. My mother is working on learning English and my father is trying to improve his Spanish, so we all practice together. In fact, I made flashcards to help me memorize characters for a dictation and was going over them after dinner. Everyone gathered around and I was teaching the English words as they helped me master the Chinese pronunciation! These moments feel so special, and result in a sense of belonging.


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There is still so much curiosity too. Everyone asks about forks and knives when we eat together, and marvel at my ability to use chopsticks. Amazement struck my family when they learned that I had never tried yellow watermelon. My little 6 year old cousin Fan Fan brought me some peanuts to see if I would like them. When I said I did she asked to dance for me-a really neat Latin American style she is studying. She then proceeded to run around the dinner table putting sunglasses on various family members and tickling. My aunt then asked if I could take 'naughty' Fan Fan with me when I return home to the States. I gladly accepted and they all laughed.

My sister and her cousin were fascinated by a braid in my hair. They are required to keep theirs short according to school policy, and long hair really excites them. So I braided their hair for them (even though I'm a horrible hair braider...) and they were so very happy.


The warmth and feeling of family here just can't be beat. I love the weekends and the time we get to spend together!


This featured blog entry was written by calla.2014 from the blog Rice For Breakfast.
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By calla.2014

Posted Sat, Jul 13, 2013 | Comments