A Special Friendship in Seattle

Guest Post by Farrah Pawirosonto–Kartosentiko


In honor of the International Day of Friendship on July 30, we are publishing a series of blog posts on cross-cultural friendships in the FIUTS community. Read on for a reflection on the friendship between a homestay program participant and host.

A month before my travel to the US I learned that my host city would be Seattle. Coming from a small country as Suriname, with a population of 400.000, I always dreamed about visiting a big city. That wish came true. I did all my research on Seattle beforehand. The only thing I had no information on, was my host family I would be living with for nearly 2 weeks.

I was excited and at the same time concerned, because the situation could go in all different directions.

And then I met Ms. Eileen Little. Looking back at my time with her, I couldn’t have wished for someone more suitable for me than her. I was, in her 30 years of experience in hosting, her first guest from the Caribbean.

When she picked me up, the first thing she said to me in the car was: “So they tell you that you would be living with an all American family right? But does that even exist? I don’t think so. What is the definition of an all American family? Who decides what that is?” Her question was a statement in itself. And that set the tone for our further hour long conversations with each other.

If it’s the idea behind hosting to get to know American society better, than I couldn’t have had a better guide. There wasn’t a subject we didn’t talk about. From daily things such as our families, our daily life, food and culture, to heavier subjects as politics (soon the US elections would start), our countries ruling systems, the educational systems and how our societies differed from another.

She was twice my age, but I never felt that we had a disconnection with each other. Even more, we had a lot in common. We both are educators, always ready to tackle all kind of activities, with a very down-to-earth way of thinking and a love for slight sarcasm. Outspoken in every way, strongly believing in justice and always willing to fight for the underdog. Making us tough from the outside, but soft from the inside.

Our backgrounds and daily environments are not the same. There were times where we had totally different opinions. And we would discuss things back and forth. But the thing I loved most about her was that she was always willing to listen to my side of the story and respect my opinion. Never using her authority as an elder.

And every day I could count on her that she would let me out in the morning to wish me a good day, and at the end of the day she would be waiting for me in the kitchen to have our daily talks, sometimes till midnight.

It made me feel welcome. It made me feel that I mattered.

Each year we sent each other a Happy New Year e-mail. Given the situation, we may never meet again. But I will always cherish our special friendship.

Farrah is a teacher from Suriname who participated as an adult mentor in the Youth Ambassador Program with the Caribbean in summer 2016. This program was produced by FIUTS in Seattle in partnership with World Learning, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Guest posts on the FIUTS blog represent the experiences and views of individual writers. They do not necessarily reflect the views of FIUTS or any organizations or institutions affiliated with our programs.