Student Reflection Verano 2019

When I first pulled up to the gas station outside of my pueblo de acogida, my stomach was in knots. I hadn’t been this nervous since my Section swim meet, and I felt like I was going to crumple up into a ball of straight up nerves. We had stopped for a few minutes before reaching our meeting point with host families, because a host family was running late. I wondered whether or not it had been my host family; I knew that they had a seven year old son, so it was possible that he had held them up, but I really didn’t know. As I felt the bus lurch out of park and into drive I began to gather myself a little bit. I put my water bottle into my backpack, took out my headphones and turned to Aubrey who was sitting next to me. We talked casually to each other about what we hoped for from our homestay experience. At the time neither of us had the ability to comprehend the impact that these people would have on our lives. 

The bus finally pulled up to la parada and I got off of the bus. I looked around at a crowd of friendly faces and found the sweet smile and kind eyes of my host mother, Yoli. She approached me timidly, and I soon realized that they were strangers to me just as much as I was a stranger to them. They had taken a risk by agreeing to host a LITA student for three weeks. After a series of brief introductions we began to walk towards their home. My host dad began cracking jokes with his kids as we walked, and slowly Sofia, Enrique and Sergio began talking to me. We were all terrified of what was going to happen. When I arrived at their house I was given a tour, and when the tour ended in the living room I found the first of many acts of kindness I would experience in my three weeks. Sitting on the coffee table was my name spelled out in LEGOs and a piece of printer paper that had been turned into a card reading “Bienvenida Eloise” accompanied by a small drawing of my host family. 

When I think back to these early moments with my host family I am reminded of the care, curiosity and authenticity that they brought to my experience with LITA. I truly became a member of their family during my three weeks with them. I became privy to long-standing family inside jokes. I was invited to their grandparents' house in Burgos, where I received a tour of family heirlooms. I was taken on trips to the grocery store so that I could pick out the food I wanted to eat. I was included in countless games of Superpoly, Parcheeze and Just Dance. My host family adopted me during my time with them. They integrated me in their daily lives and appreciated me for who I was. 

The host family experience was the most impactful part of my time with LITA. It wasn’t the week spent in rural Galicia with my group before the homestay, or the days hiking after our homestay that made LITA so special. It was the time spent with people who genuinely wanted to see me grow. It was the platform that rural Spain provided for growth, learning and love that I will never forget. When I think about the LITA experience as a whole I am reminded of how much I didn’t want to leave Spain. I didn’t want to leave my famiLITA nor did I want to leave my homestay. Looking back at my experience, I can see that LITA has a clear understanding of what it means to have an authentic learning-living experience. They know the kind of program they are, and the type of experience they want to create; It says something that I am still communicating with the other students from LITA in Spanish. We still text, write postcards and FaceTime in Spanish. 

LITA not only provided me with the opportunity for growth and learning in Spain, but it has also continued to provide me with opportunities after the end of the program. I am still in contact with my host family. I text them as various events come up in my life and I send them photos of what my life is like in San Francisco. I hope that we will never lose touch. Even if they live on another continent, they represent a family and a home that I will always have in Spain, one that is representative of growth and deep engagement with a culture other than my own. 

- Eloise Burtis, Student, 2019


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When I first pulled up to the gas station outside of my pueblo de acogida, my stomach was in knots. I hadn’t been this nervous since my Section swim meet, and I felt like I was going to crumple up into a ball of straight up nerves. We had...