CUDA has had a language school for a while now, but a little over a month ago added a homestay option. What the homestay option offers is full language and culture immersion by living with a Peruvian family. This is a great option for extra language learning beyond what happens in the classroom and gives the opportunity to use Spanish in a real context, every day.
Jeremy and I moved to Peru over a month ago knowing we would be spending our first several months in language school full time, which is four hours a day, one-on-one with a Peruvian language instructor. However, we also knew that we wanted to do a homestay with a Peruvian family to reinforce what we had learned that day and to make us have to use Spanish outside of class. So, when CUDA started offering the homestay option we signed up right away.
Two days after we arrived to Peru we moved in with our Peruvian family, and they have been wonderful. We eat every meal with them and every lunch is a typical Peruvian dish so we have gotten to learn a lot about the food culture here. It has also been really neat for us to get to observe how a Peruvian family works and interacts with each other.
The family we are staying with consists of Abuelita Laurita, the matriarch of the family and arguably one of the best cooks in Arequipa (Incidentally, Laurita is the mother of CUDA’s executive director Alfredo). Also in the house is her daughter, Silvia and her husband, Oswaldo. They have two daughters and one of them lives here, Gabriela, with her 1 year-old son Jose Gabriel.
Sundays are one of our favorite days with them because usually the whole family is home and we share a big meal together. Jeremy has gottento go play soccer with Oswaldo several times, and one weekend we got to make and share with them our homemade Italian pizza!
It has been so fun to get to learn about their lives and their culture in a way that would not have been possible without doing the homestay. It has also helped our Spanish and given me many opportunities to struggle through trying to explain something to them in Spanish while we all laugh because who really knows what was said.
Relationship is the goal. And communication is a game: there are some rules (for example: grammar and vocabulary), but there is plenty of room to improvise (hand gestures and laughing). This homestay has taught me that, while communication is challenging, the relationships it has given me are worth the effort it takes to learn. We have just recently moved into our own apartment, but the relationship with our family will continue and we hope to host them in our home for a meal soon.