This past weekend was my younger host sister's birthday. The celebration brought the whole family together - including my host mom's sisters and their families, and a past host-daughter who is currently studying at the Universite de Rennes 1 (the other large university in France, which focuses more on engineering and sciences). It was a very interesting evening.
My host family is an interesting mix of cultures. My host mom was born and raised here in Rennes, and is French to the bone, which has caused a few uncomfortable moments during the past month (also because she is a very frugal woman), and my host-dad is Bolivian. I think, at this point, I'm closest with my host-dad. He's always telling me stories about the family's past life and his children, and has made some wonderful Bolivian food for us to share together when the rest of the host family is out.
Today, to celebrate he daughter turning 17, he made Empanadas. For those who don't know, Empanadas are South American pastries filled with meat and vegetables. I also learned that my host-dad used to run a food stall and small South American restaurant in Place Ste. Anne where he sold his empanadas. Boy are they scrumptious! I could eat those things all the time.
The rest of the family is also quite interesting. I had met a few of the cousins before when my host-mom, host-sister, and myself went to see a movie downtown with one of the cousins. However, there were quite a few people I hadn't met who came. One of the aunts really interested me because she is deaf. I've had a bit of an interest in sign language since I was young and first saw it being used on an episode of Reading Rainbow. It's just such an intriguing language! What's even more interesting is that it changes from country to country, and that children who are deaf but are never formally educated at a deaf school where they can learn official forms of sign language develop their own sign language to communicate with those around them. Considering that this was the first deaf person I have met in person, I was quite interested in her story.
Well, it turns out that she is quite an amazing woman. She never let her deafness become a barrier between herself and others. Not only did she learn how to lip read, but she taught herself to speak - French, English, and Spanish. I was pretty inspired by her.
I was also surprised by how close the previous host-daughter was with my host-mom. To me, my host-mom is just so distant. She doesn't really communicate with me all that much, and rarely asks me questions about myself or my life. I also found out that my host family has been hosting for quite a number of years.
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