A Lesson in Humanity - My Family Travels

When the bus pulled into Talavera, Spain on the morning of June 24th my heart was racing and my palms were sweating. It was a beautiful day, the sun shone like glitter on the green leaves of orange trees lining the city streets. I, however, was too petrified to take any notice. It was my first trip out of the States, or overseas, and I was now facing the second week of my foreign experience: a family stay. I clenched my best friend’s hand as we approached the park where we were to meet our families for the first time.

As the bus slowed to a stop, our exuberant tour guide Jim began to call off our names and one by one we made the descent down the bus stairs and into a new world. My Spanish mother, Rosa Diaz, had driven the 60 miles from her small village in the mountains to come and claim me. All of my peers were staying comfortably within the city limits and I was frightened to be journeying so far away from the rest of the group. Rosa was a pleasant woman, though, and she immediately called her two daughters to inform them that I had arrived.

Soon we were driving away into the Spanish countryside. When I arrived at my home, I was floored. The beauty of the mountains and rivers in Losar de la Vera, my town, was astounding; olive groves surrounded fields of grazing bulls and flower boxes bursted with color. I felt as if I had stepped back in time and began to relax. Meeting my sisters, Maria and Elena, was less awkward than I had anticipated. We bonded immediately and conversed in broken English and Spanish to share stories of our lives in vastly different places.

Many of the days I spent there were dedicated to endless conversations in the family restaurant concerning problems we both saw in our home-towns, such as abortion and health care. Speaking excitedly as we lay out by the river, I learned how small the world really is. They taught me about their way of life, and in return I told them all about living in America. I laughed and loved every second I spent there, enjoying meals on the terrace and lengthy siestas in the afternoon heat. All of the awkwardness and prejudice I carried with me that first day evaporated. I made friends I will always remember and discovered myself.

When it finally came time to leave my new home, I was expectantly sad, but I was also full. Full of new ideas about the world, new memories, new love, and new hope. I had lived, really lived, during my stay and it was something I took home with me. I learned to relax into the Spanish style of not caring about the hour of the day, but about the moments you spend with those who love you. In a way, I think that being so far out in the countryside, away from big city life, had benefited me. I had seen the inner-workings of an ordinary, but extraordinary, family, set apart from cosmopolitan distractions, and I believe that was necessary for my learning. I will never forget those seven days, laughing, crying, adjusting, and most of all loving dearly the Diaz family. Living with a foreign family is an experience everyone should try. It opened my eyes to a new side of humanity and the bonds people can form, even in the face of stark differences. It was ‘la mejor lección que he aprendido’: the greatest lesson I ever learned.


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