Tonight was a momentous occasion in my year in Kaohsiung... maybe? Anyway, we had a special dinner and got set up with our "host family" in the area. I use the scare quotes because I'm obviously living with other Americans here with Fulbright in an apartment, and not in a home with a family. But just in time for the Moon Festival, Fulbright arranged for us to have host families with whom to spend holidays and experience the area. Twenty-some Kaohsiung locals applied to host us, and in the end only twelve were chosen. I told our coordinators that I would prefer a family with children, and if possible, one or two family members who would let me practice Chinese with them. So far, even the locals I've met have learned enough English (and are intent on learning more) that I usually find myself defaulting to my 母語 instead of going to the effort to speak Chinese.
Anyway, my Kaohsiung family has two parents and three children: two boys and a girl. Sound familiar? Well, the father is a dentist (though I have yet to meet him) and the mother Linda is a housewife (and speaks very little English but wants to learn more-- language exchange ahoy!); the daughter Christine is 17, son Michael is 15, and Kevin is in 6th grade (so, 12?). Michael is actually in school in Canada right now (his US travel visa expired but he didn't want to come home). He's only coming home to visit next summer, so it's likely I'll never meet him. Kevin and Michael both lived in San Francisco with an aunt and went to school there for two years, so Kevin's English is very good. Kevin told me that his family wanted to host someone because Americans and Canadians have been so kind and helpful to Michael, so Michael encouraged them to take any chance to get to know and be kind to foreigners in Taiwan.
So as I said, the primary reason for getting a host family at this time is to have somewhere to spend the Moon Festival (which is on Sunday). But because of Typhoon Sinlaku, the tradition of barbecuing and watching the moon is pretty much out the window. Instead, my family has some alternative Sunday plans. Plans that are so awesome they deserve a line break.
On Sunday, weather-permitting, the family will go to Costco, then eat pizza. And they want me to come, too. Am I with the right family or what?
I'm definitely excited about getting to know them more. True to Asian fashion, we even sang karaoke together after dinner tonight... 鄧麗君's classic hit 月亮代表我的心... also known as the only Chinese song I actually know all the words to. Here's a picture of me with my Kaohsiung family, singing in front of the awesome/awful WE ARE FAMILY poster.
I'm definitely excited to spend more time with this family... and to go to a Taiwanese Costco.