Competition : We Give, We Exist

Bob, Me, and Sonia are going to sightseeing around Kentucky. May 2010 in USA.
Humble, simple, noble, respectful, helpful are only little words could describe my homestay-parent. It was just 2 days, yet it totally impressed me years. What’s more, two days with them, I felt as excited as at my own home with my own parent. Wow…imaging the moment, I wish to return to state soon.
It was 2 years since my first visit to United State of America (USA). I granted a competitive scholarship from the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration with the Indonesian International Education Foundation (IIEF). The program was funded by US Department of State. The program aimed to prepare a chance to participants to gain English skill for academic purpose at a prestigious university in USA for 8 weeks. Among 800 applicants, 21 of 61 selected undergraduate students all over archipelagoes were placed at Ohio University, USA.
We were very lucky to visit Ohio in spring which gave us an opportunity to spend a weekend through homestay program. I and a friend of mine were deployed at a lansia’s house (far advanced in life). Bob Derge, my father, was about 67, and Sonia, my mother, was about 59 years old in 2010. They based in Kentucky State in which neighbourhood of Ohio. Nevertheless my homestay-parent was too old to host the international students, but they were totally friendly and helpful. The ways they served us was completely opened my mind and taught me many lessons in term of attitude, culture, and religion.

My first lesson-learn was about attitude. The way Bob’s family served us was no word to explain. They were absolutely friendly, helpful, respectful, and humble. At first we stepped on their house, they welcomed us with a cup of tea prior to show us where to sleep. Then, they guided us to around the big-house. They showed where to cook, to take bath, to sleep, to wash, to play, and to browse. Each room we saw, they friendly informed us the functions of each room, sometime they inserted with the history of the house. No matter it was necessary or useless; they kept telling us every single space and thing both inside and outside the house.

Me, Bob, and Sonia inside the house. May 2010 in Kentucky, USA.
At night, they prepared us a thick blanket, because they understood about the different weather between Indonesian and state. In the morning, they heated the water for us to make a cup of tea or coffee. Before cooking, Sonia asked us what kind of American food we want to taste. In addition, as part of treatment, with complete information in printed-papers, they gave us the full rights to decide which tourist destinations we want to visit. Wow…it was the most unforgettable moment in my life.

Regarding to culture value, I learnt about the real self-independence within my homestay. Bob has two boys who married already and lived quite far from him. Bob is currently living with his wife, Sonia plus his “eternal kid”, Bob and Sonia considered the dog as the eternal kid, because unlike their own sons, it won’t be married or marries and able to accompanied them for long-life ever.

Despite Bob’s only lives with his wife, and they were both retired already due to their old age, they didn’t act as the spoilt children. They didn’t rely their needs on their sons. They didn’t pay any maid to serve them. Sonia cooked together with Bob to prepare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They scheduled themselves to water the flowers in the front yard. Sonia has not any driver to take her to and at market. They did all thing together alone without any help from maid or home-servant.

What’s a contrast culture performed in Indonesia in many ways by many of us. A businessman has different driver for her wife, kids, and his own needs. An actress has a special maid to cook, a maid to wash, a servant to look after the kids, and any other maids depend on needs. A government also shows the same terrible culture, he/she has a single assistant for driver, a single assistant in the office, and a single assistant at home. Oh my god, how poor we are in term of independence and maturity.

In relation with religion value, a weekend homestay taught me how beautiful and peaceful the religion in America is. Bob and Sonia are Christians, but they served us totally no discrimination at all. Bob read our background information already prior to host us; he prepared us the prayer mats to do five-time prayers. Sonia made sure us to cook halal foods. Furthermore, they also kept away their big-black-dog from us, because they knew that Muslim is forbidden to be in touched with the dog. In short, for religion reason, there was nothing to worry to worship as my own belief. In fact, the real tolerance was performed by Bob’s family. Now I know what the real tolerance means for me is.

Before I said good-bye to Bob’s family, I gave them a couple of gifts which I brought from Indonesia. To be honest, giving gift is a good thing from Indonesia when we go abroad. Finally, on the way to meeting point, I pretended to be brave to ask Bob and Sonia a question stucked in my heart since first day of homestay program, “Are you paid for this homestay?”.  With big smile, Sonia answered, “That is the common question asked by every international students we host, and to be honest we are paid for nothing for homestay; on the contrary, we paid some fees to join with voluntary organization”. Surprisingly, I asked her again “Why?”, with his own style, Bob said “We fell happy when we can give something for someone”, then Sonia ended up the conversation “We give, We exist”.

Me and Sonia inside the house, Kentucky May 2010.