The concept of family can take on many different forms. For most people, when they hear the word family images of a mom, dad, siblings, grandparents and the like come to mind. But family can be your best friends. Family can be your favorite pet cat. Family can be a group of people you’ve never met before living in a small African country no bigger than the state of Vermont.
My host family in Rwanda has become like a real family to me. They have taken care of me and made sure I found my way in this vastly different culture, suffering through my dumb questions and providing more than helpful answers. They introduce me as their daughter (much to the disbelief of other Rwandans) and treat me like I’m part of the family, even inviting me to the hospital after their baby daughter was born.
Most people here don’t understand the concept of me having a Rwandan family. So many times I have been somewhere with my little host sister and someone asked, “Is this your baby?” I say, “no, she is my sister”, the response from them typically being “with skin like that?” The conversation is usually dropped soon after this.
It will be sad for me to leave on Monday, leaving my new family behind. They are a very special group of people, especially for taking in a young clueless American girl. I will miss them very much. But I look forward to seeing my family and friends when I get home and returning to Rwanda in the future.