Being a Member of the Family

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Kodjeita Guerdjibaye from Chad needed a place to stay when arriving on campus. One local American came to the rescue. This essay was one of our finalists for microscholarship #2.

I am a secondary school English teacher in my country, Chad in Central Africa. I came to the USA under Fulbright sponsorship to improve my teaching skills. I was sent to Saint Michael’s College of Colchester for an Intensive English Program. When I came by March 18, 2013, there was no room available on campus. I stayed at Day’s Inn hotel, waiting for a room on campus. The hotel was expensive and my scholarship limited. How am I going to handle this situation?

Five days later, I went to the board and reminded the clerk about the financial situation I will be facing in the long run. My issue was sent to some families who used to help students with lodging. A teacher at my school volunteered to have me live with them. Her name is Ann. She told the clerk if I do not mind leaving in Burlington, which is 2 bus rides to school. She did not want me to pay for the stay until the school could find any accommodation for me. The clerk told me about that option.

On the tenth day, Ann took me to their house. She introduced me to her husband, Timothy. He was also a teacher but he is retired now. They have a son and a daughter. They are now away from their parents.

It was a beautiful double floor house with all the facilities and 4 rooms. I was given her son’s room upstairs. That family was everything for me. They told me that I had to be at ease as if I was in my own house.

The next day, Ann and I boarded the bus together because she wanted to show me the bus route to school and back home. Every morning, Ann would prepare the breakfast and we share it together with her husband before I go to school. Ann would give me a package of food to carry with me and eat during lunchtime. In the evening, she would prepare the food for dinner and we share it together. I wanted to contribute to the expenses of the family but Ann told me that I was in the house like their host and I had nothing to buy, even the toilet tissue. She showed me places where I could get clothes and shoes at cheap price, took me with her husband to visit some places around Burlington like museum, market farm, on a trip on the Lake Champlain. She would help me with my assignment in the evening. As I did not have a laptop, she lent me one. She taught me the basic use of computer. Even though, Ann did not want me to be involved in cooking, I managed to teach her some dish from my country. She said cooking is reserved to women in Africa and did not want to embarrass me. By the evening we would sit together when I was not busy doing my homework, I told them the way we live in my country. They would tell me about the way it is in the States.

One day, I felt sick at school and was taken to hospital by the school officials. After being seen by the doctor, I came out. Ann was informed and was already there with her husband Timothy. She brought me some juice, apples and oranges. Then they took me home. I really felt deeply in my heart. I thought nobody would care about me if I fell sick here in USA but I was wrong. I received special care like a member of the family.

I stayed with the Ann’s for 50 days before I moved on campus. Ann would still help me whenever she goes for shopping, she would take me with her and ask me to take the food I need and she would pay for.

It was such a great encounter that I had with that family. I experienced love, friendship and assistance that would be hard for me to forget.

Kodjeita’s essay was a finalists for microscholarship #2. 

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