A few short hours after our return from site exposure came the adoption ceremony. Just a bit of background on this – the bulk of PST (pre-service training) is spent living with a host family in town. The host families have many responsibilities beyond housing and feeding the volunteers. They must also teach us how to cook, clean, speak, wash clothes, shop, and generally get us ready to be somewhat self sufficient before we go to our post. Peace Corps believes strongly in this approach to cultural training, and the host families themselves love being participants in helping the volunteers prepare for service.
The home stay program kicks off with an event held at the training center – the Adoption Ceremony. All the families come and seat themselves under an awning facing the main building. Meanwhile, the volunteers are all seated in two rows facing the families. One by one, each host family is called to the front, and matched with their volunteer. This sounds like a boring process, but it is not. Some of the families dance their way to the front, some pretend that they are about to give birth, and the whole event is a very spirited affair. When the volunteer is called, generally there is jumping and hugging with the family, and it’s all very heart warming.
Amy and I were advised ahead of time that we would be staying with the same host family, which was fantastic news – as this was not a given. Our names were called near the end of the ceremony. It was a strange sensation – meeting the person with whom you will live for the next three months. However, our host family has been incredibly welcoming, right from the start.
Our host mother’s name is Comfort, and we are the 5th and 6th volunteers she has hosted. After the hugging in front of everyone, we sat down and thanked her for adopting us. She responded by thanking us for being her children. We asked what we should call her – Comfort? Host-mom? She told us “you call me mom! All my children call me mom.” We immediately felt right at home, and can’t wait to learn all that this family has to teach us.