Semester End Round Up Special: Host Families Part I!

Hello everyone. With a mere 5 days left of my time here in Peru, I have decided to concentrate my blogging efforts on providing you with my honest, incredibly witty and cleaver opinion about my time here and various aspects of my time here and help give you a better understanding of what life here in Peru is like, and help you to decide whether or not you too wish to study here. I am about to bring to you "the realness," the stuff that they don't tell you in pamphlets or show you in the presentations. You will receive my raw thoughts and feelings about my time here (which, unfortunately, are not at all positive as I have not particularly enjoyed it), filtered only by my immense charm and writing talent. These are, however, serious subjects and should be taken into consideration by anyone considering studying abroad here in Lima. Thus, it will lack my normal silly photos.

I feel as if a good place to start is with the host family. This is an important part of the study abroad experience here seeings how almost all of the students from IU this semester are living with a host family of some sort (the exception being a married couple who instead chose to get an apartment during their time here). I got placed with Price family here in Lima Peru. The father, Agusto, is a medical doctor who works at a local clinic (due to the rather dismal state of Peru's public health care system, anyone who can afford to do so seeks care at private clinics as opposed to public hospitals). The mother, Selma, is a retired professor and psychiatric nurse who, after a long career in both hospital and academic settings now spends her time as a volunteer at a local psychiatric hospital. They have two grown children, both in their 30s, one of whom is a lawyer ( Yan Carlos), and the other an animal science specialist (Danni). They are a middle class family (here professionals are not nearly as well compensated as they are in the USA), and live in the Jesus Maria district of Lima. The mother, Selma, is a highly dedicated animal rights enthusiast and is a member of a local animal protection society and has adopted four stray dogs. All of them have severe behavioral problems as a result of their time on the streets.

They also have a few maids as well. Sonja is the primary maid and lives with the family for the duration of the week. She is 28, a single mother (the baby lives with its grandmother), and lives in a favela a few hours by bus out of town. She is overall a friendly and chipper character. She does, however, speak in a typical lower-class Peruvian dialect and has an accent that is extremely difficult to understand due to growing up in a rural town in the sierra. As such I was not really able to understand her, nor her I for the first two months of my time here. Being the rugged, independent American that I am I found it quite strange at first that she would was dishes for the family and I and clean up my room whenever it was messy (which in my defense, is a rare occurrence). There are a few other people who work at the house. Fina, a maid who does sometimes spend the night and is here often enough is an elderly woman with a young daughter. I do not know much about here due to the fact that she has a much stronger accent and dialectical difference than Sonja and is, therefore, at least for me, completely impossible to understand.

First off, I must say that the family tires its best to be accommodating and, in many ways, was actually quite helpful. The host-mother, whose own children have all left the house and gotten married, is quite doting and has treated me as her own child. She helped me to get acclimated to Lima, and taught me how to use the cities complex and incredibly disorganized public transport system to get around town. She was also quite helpful in giving me advice as to what sites to see while here in Peru, as well as informing me about local festival and important events. The family is quite generous and even refused payment for the month of December because I will not be staying here for the duration of the month and have included me in some of their family outings.

Unfortunately, overall, I cannot recommend staying with this family should you come to Peru. What I shall say next is extremely important. DO NOT STAY WITH THIS FAMILY IF YOU ARE JEWISH, HOMOSEXUAL, ASIAN, INDIGENOUS OR BLACK (or all five). And really, I can't say that I would recommend them (or Lima) to anyone at all. While here, after sharing the fact that I am dating a Jewish woman in response to a question asked by the host father (basically why aren't you sleeping around) he instantly launched in to a tirade against the Jews during which he told me that I should terminate the relationship because Jewish women are completely unsuitable for marriage, greedy, manipulative, and overall terrible individuals. On other occasions he has lectured me about  THE BRILLIANCE OF ADOLF HITLER HIS ADMIRATION OF THE HOLOCAUST AND WHAT A SHAME IT WAS THAT DID NOT EXTERMINATE THE JEWS (which I also felt deserved to be placed in cap locks). This, needless to saw was incredibly awkward, not only because my girlfriend is Jewish, but also because I am half-black (blacks were also targeted by the Nazis though, obviously, to a lesser extent than Jews and Gypsies). Also, whenever they talk about anything pertaining to Jews they always go out of their way portray them in the most negative light and enjoyed making anti-Semitic jokes to see how I would react. Even the host-grandmother referred to a Jewish woman they were discussing once as an "damn Jewish she-devil (or maldita diabla judia)." Were I to point out all of the blatant anti-Semitism that I have had to put up with here I would probably crash the weareiu server and so, I will leave it at this, however, rest assured these were not isolated instances that I am exaggerating in any way, shape or form. Alas, anti-Semitism is not just limited to this family and their opinions are fairly typical of the locals.

Next, there was subject of homosexuality. Both host parents seem to think of it as some form of psychological illness. The host mother feels badly for them because there is nothing that they can do about this and no way to "cure them." The host father, however, is slightly more aggressive. Every time a homosexual person was on TV or came up in discussion, he would loudly shout "Mericon de Mierda" (fucking faggot) and demand a fictitious grenade which the would then pretend to throw at the TV or off into space. He also loved to discuss his fantasies about shooting homosexual individuals in the head and stabbing them to death. Though I'm sure this was mostly in jest, It was extremely uncomfortable for me as well, and I feel would be a truly horrible environment for any LGBTQ student. He would routinely state and boast of times that he and his friends had abused homosexual individuals. On a side note I also feel obliged to point out that his opinion was not all that uncommon amongst the locals and most of them a vehemently homophobic.

And that, my friends, does it for my Host Families Part I blog post. Be sure to check into part I to hear the rest of my frantic warnings and little tidbits of advice.

Until next time,

Christopher Moore

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