I guess the first thing I want to do is thank Janet and Jay for giving us the opportunity to actually stay with a Bahamian family for a couple days and experience the culture firsthand. Before hearing about this portion of the trip, I never imagined that we would get an opportunity like we got this weekend. Dave Lee and I got to spend three days in Tarpum Bay with an amazing family! The family consisted of a seventh grade boy, Christian, and his mom, Gwen. Christian’s best friend Charleston, who is also in seventh grade spent the entire weekend with the family, so we considered him as part of the family as well. The father of the family works as a surveyor in the capitol, which is Nassau, and was unable to make it home for the weekend because he was working. Seeing the Bahamian culture from the outside looking in was so much different than actually immersed in their lives. We ate with the family, hung out with the family, drove with the family and slept under the family’s roof. Anything that they did, we also did, and I absolutely loved it! So few people get to experience what we did in their lives and I feel blessed to be on this trip with such an amazing group of students.
The majority of our time this weekend was spent hanging out with Christian and Charleston. Even though I expected there to be quite a few differences between how I grew up and how the Bahamians grow up, instead I came to find there really aren’t that many differences at all! At nighttime, the boys played Call of Duty nonstop, which I could totally relate to as I went through a very similar stage in my life. When we arrived on Friday we played Call of Duty with the boys after a delicious taco dinner. Dave and I also got to catch a couple NBA games that night because apparently ESPN is a universal channel. Saturday was our only full day that we got to spend with the family. Originally, Christian was planning to take us fishing in the morning, but when we arrived at the ocean it was very rough and choppy from the strong winds. That was a bummer because David and I were really excited to let Christian show us how great of a fisherman he was! Instead, we decided to head down to the park where a local dog show was to be held in the early afternoon. It turned out that the dog show was being held on one end of a basketball court. This was great luck for us because we got to play basketball with a ton of the youth from Tarpum Bay with Christian and Charleston all afternoon while also enjoying the dog show on the other side of the court. They were also grilling food at the park so as you can imagine, Dave and I ate pretty well. We ended up getting picked up from the park later in the afternoon and Gwen took us on a drive up to Governor’s Harbor, a little north of Tarpum Bay. We got to see a beautiful sunset and see a few cool new spots that we would have probably never been able to see had we not spent the weekend with the family. After we came home, we had dinner and hung out with the little guys a little more before we headed to bed.
Sunday was our last day with the family and it was a fun one! We got the opportunity to experience what it was like to attend a Bahamian church. All I can say about this is “wow.” This church we went to was so vibrant! There were half as many people in the church than there usually are in my church that I go to, but the church we attended was probably five times louder. It was truly a celebration of God and I’m so glad I got to experience it. After we got home from church we got to take part in the Sunday feast. I can’t even describe how good the meal was. We had snapper, ribs, chicken breast, rice, beans, coleslaw, broccoli and mashed potatoes…all on one plate. For dessert Gwen made fresh brownies and paired it with ice cream. I think I might still be full from it. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to eat. One thing that was really confirmed during my homestay was how much the Bahamians share a love for food. All weekend long Dave and I ate some of the most delicious food that I have ever had. The food aspect of our weekend was very relevant to why we are down here in the Bahamas. Growing up in a family where this type of diet is the norm puts the children in an uphill battle. Diet plays a huge part in the development of Type 2 Diabetes and I think this weekend allowed me to really understand how hard it is to eat a healthy diet at a young age, and how important it is to educate the youth not only in the Bahamas, but everywhere around the world, on how important a healthy diet is. This was an amazing experience for me and I am finding it hard to fully explain how much I got to see and experience in one blog post! If I had to summarize this weekend in once sentence I would say that the homestay experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness a foreign culture firsthand, a chance for me to better understand the lifestyles that Bahamians lead and how lifestyles can influence the prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in this beautiful country. Hopefully that didn’t bore you too much! Carpe diem, everyone.