WHEN I TOLD MY CURRENT HOMESTAY AUNT HUI QI that I want to go to DC, she insisted in looking for some Tzu Chi volunteers in DC to host my stay. Someone found someone and in the end, I was told that I’ll be staying at an Uncle Hu’s house.
When I arrived yesterday however, the Hu’s are busy attending and helping out a marriage and they could not meet me until later that night. As a result, they asked another couple to meet me first. However, the wedding went late, and it was decided that I should spend a night at this Uncle Cai and Aunt Ji’s home.
Uncle Cai is a microbiologist who has worked in the federal government for many years before retiring recently. Aunt Ji on the other hand, deals with computer programming and databases. Both of them are really very talkative and with me added in, we talked our way through the evening happily. All the home stays I been with are really amazing. They are all very friendly, and are individuals with charming personalities and big hearts. No comparisons here, but I really had such a great time with Uncle Cai and Aunt Ji that I felt sad when I had to leave them for the Hu’s.
Fortunately, Uncle Hu and Aunt Chen turned out to be really great people too. Uncle Hu likes to cycle so we talked a great deal about cycling in Taiwan. He was once the CEO of the Tzu Chi office DC branch, and participates in the charity missions full-time now. Aunt Chen is the typical housewife, waking up early to prepare breakfast, doing all the yard work and upbringing of her children. She also does a lot of art, professionally well in the tea ceremony, and knows how to make these dried flower arrangements. Their house is located at suburbia quite a distance from town, big and spacious, with a large yard behind. Having a large house with 6 bedrooms, many guests were said to have spent their nights in DC here. For example, the bed that I slept in these few days was also the same one where the headmaster of my school rested during his trip here. In this photo here, you can see my home stays Aunt Chen and Uncle Hu beside me. On their right is Aunt Baochu who arranged my stay. Sitting on her side is Aunt Susan who is now in charge of the Tzu Ching youths in DC, and Roy, a Tzu Ching who graduated recently and is now working in Virginia.
ALTHOUGH I ENJOYED THE COMPANIONSHIP OF MY HOMESTAYS, my main reason is to visit Georgetown University and check out their CAM program for myself. Their Masters program in Complementary Medicine is the first and only one of its kind in the States. I had the opportunity corresponding with Dr. Myers, the program director, and he suggested that I come to the office when there’s a chance.
Although there are no metro stations over there, going to Georgetown is not a difficult task because a shuttle bus does travel from a few nearby stations, and it only costs 50 cents per trip. GU is renowned for its heritage, medical school and also for its pricey tuition fees. Upon entering the campus, I was surrounded by old buildings and tall old trees. Even with a map, the school is still large enough for me to lose my way. I saw a vending machine that rents out DVDs, which is really cool! My talk with the coordinator, Amy, answered many of my questions. As I thought, there are no full scholarships offered for the program, but they informed me that with my current standing, application should not be a problem. I was told that the fees to cover everything should sum up to $50,000 a year (if I were to have only a cup of soup for lunch every day). On the other hand, program is really interesting, and it suits my pursuit of a future career as an integrative physician. Geez, I’m glad I have two years more before graduation to figure this out.
Go or no go GU stands out in changing my stereotyping of all Americans. The school has many recycle bins, located at all the convenient places where you would possibly need one. They even recycle cell phones and batteries, which is a good sign. Are schools better than the hospitals and the streets, or is it just because DC is a more environmental friendlier city? I guess I’ll have to stay to know.