NSLI-Y Homestay: Time to Say Goodbye

Time flies as we hardly notice. It was like yesterday that on July 10th, NSLI-Y’s students moved to their host families. Now two weeks have passed. On July 24th, all the students said goodbye to their host families and moved back to the dorms on ECNU campus.

For two weeks, students have lived the way that typical Chinese people live in their host families in Shanghai. Most of the host families have only one child, nicknamed as “Little Emperor” in China families. Now NSLI-Y’s students got to personally experience those “little emperor’s” way of living in their host families. Host parents treated the students as their own kids and have taken care of them very attentively and carefully during the two weeks. Host moms usually cooked and did laundry for them. Some moms even cleaned up the bedrooms and bathrooms for them. Host dads usually were in charge of culture exploration. They took them out to see the city, or taught them Chinese culture. Host brothers or sisters hung out with them and helped them practice Chinese.

Claire’s room in her host family.

Claire and her host family had dinner in a restaurant.

Mary Kate and her host sister visited the Bund at night.

Clementine and her host mom and brother.

Johanna with her host family.

For example, Nicola’s host dad is a college professor and a master of Chinese calligraphy. He taught Chinese calligraphy to Nicola. On the day when Dr. Chen visited Nicola’s family, she even performed calligraphy in front of everyone! It was truly amazing.

Dr. Chen visited Nicola and her host family.

Nicola demonstrated her newly learned calligraphy skills with her little sister.

Sometimes students had “trouble” in their host families and it usually happened when they didn’t know how to communicate to their host moms without hurting their feelings. Moms usually prepared too much food and kept asking students to “eat more” while they were already full. Luckily they had their Chinese teachers to ask for advice. Teachers instructed them how to say “I’m full and thank you” in Chinese and that really helped.

Professor Huang visited Ryan and his host family.

Dr. Chen visited Phoebe and her host family.

Prof. Wang visited the host families of Brydon and Lawan.

Prof. Wang visited Zach’s host family.

Prof. Wang visited Jake and his host family.

Julia’s big host family

As the students are getting used to living in Shanghai families, it’s time to say goodbye. It was very hard.

Ms. Lu Zhang welcomed Lauren and her host family in the lobby of the dorm building.

In the morning on the moving-out day, Ryan was escorted by his host parents and little brother. Host dad drove him to the dormitory. They hugged, took pictures and said goodbye. Ryan’s host mom kept babbling about their stories with Ryan to Professor Wang. Right before they were about to leave, it was too hard for her and she said “Ryan, a big hug from mom” with tears in her eyes. Everybody got very emotional at the moment.

Ryan hugs his host mom goodbye.

Sam came back with a huge escort family: grandpa, dad, mom and little sister. They helped Sam carry the luggage and backpacks to his dorm. They didn’t even find time or space to store Sam’s clean clothes so his dad carried them on his hand for him. Sam was the tallest in the family and they just made such a lovely family!

Big boy Sam and his three-generation host family

Students are very grateful for the connections they built with their host families during the two weeks. They brought gifts from the US and some of them even wrote “thank you” letters to their host families. For example, in his letter to his host parents and brother, Delmar wrote:

Delmar’s “Thank You” letter to his host family.

“I truly appreciate your help to me. I had spent two weeks of wonderful time with you. I learned a lot from you too. Thank for teaching me Chinese. I have made great progress in Chinese…..I like mom’s food. They tasted really good. Thank you for doing the laundry for me. Caesar (name of his host brother), you are such a great brother. I love playing ping pong with you.”



It was to their surprise when Delmar’s host parents got the letter and they were so happy reading it.

Delmar’s host parents share the joy after reading his “Thank You” letter with Professor Wang.

In China, we say “it’s not like we are dead or dumb as plants.” This is true love, caring and giving that surpass the differences between values, morals and ethics,  countries, languages and culture, and even time and space. It’s just like what Michael Jackson sang in his song:

“There’s a place in your heart,
And I know that it is love,
And this place could be much
Brighter than tomorrow.
And if you really try,
You’ll find there’s no need to cry.
In this place you’ll feel
There’s no hurt or sorrow.”

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