THE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT THE WORLD OF TZU CHI is that wherever you go, you’ll feel at home if you’re in the Tzu Chi volunteers hands. The amazing homestay couple that I’m staying with, Aunt Hui-Ru and the few Tzu Chi youth volunteers that I came to know, made me feel so comfortable here I hate to have to go eventually. These volunteers treat you as if you’re their own son or brother, within a few chats or two, you’ll find yourself making them your family.
The scholarship I had gave me tuition fees for the one month elective in Cornell as well as subsidy for my flight here. But being a school that is affiliated with such a big organization, my dean insisted that we stay with the Tzu Chi volunteers to save ourselves housing troubles. As a result, as soon as I landed in the States, I was picked up by someone, my travel schedule are all well arranged, and if I need anything all I need to do is ask. All of my meals are prepared by my homestays (bear in mind they don’t get paid at all) and they taught me the birds and bees of living in New York, and urged me to let them do my laundry.
THE HOUSE THAT I CALL HOME FOR THIS SUMMER is located near the junction of Crocheron Avenue and 192th Street. This is a quiet neighbourhood, far from noisy traffic and crowds of people. My homestays bought the house but rented the second floor to a Mexican couple and their cute 3 year old daughter. The first floor has 2 bedrooms, one for my homestays and one for me to crash in. They have a daughter who lives down at their basement (they have quite a sizeable one) and a son who is now traveling in Taiwan. This is the bed I sleep on everyday in New York, my luggages that I resist to unpack, and the desk where I put my laptop when I type this particular entry.
Aunt Hui-Qi works as an accountant in Manhattan, so we take the subway from Flushing to the City every morning. She is a fun and chit chatty kind of person and you’ll feel very comfortable with her. Uncle Hsieh is a manager working at a local supermarket, and boy does he love to cook! Every day after work, he will spend at least one hour or two in the kitchen preparing his GRAND dinner. In the morning, he’ll prepare breakfast for every one in the house and lunch boxes for us to bring to work. Here’s a few of his delicious signature dishes: veggies, tasty tofu with onions and bell peppers, pickled cucumbers, an interesting combination of tofu, century eggs and avocado.He is mostly quiet, but he is INDEED sincere and caring. And the laundry, wow, he does a great job at washing clothes. My white shirts (that aren’t so white anymore) became almost like new just after a wash. He has a particular system in doing those cleaning jobs, so it’s best to leave it to him and just appreciate the great help he did.
They are really a cute couple, and they did a great deal to make sure that I’m adapting well and having fun. It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago, we were complete strangers, and now, we can shout out loud that this place is my ‘HOME SWEET HOMESTAY’!
I WEIGHED MYSELF TO SEE IF I GAINED ANY and I am proud to say that I still kept my original weight. But with all these tender love and care, I have no doubts that I’ll gain an inch or two by the end of summer.