Volunteers, fellows and interns alike have many questions about FIMRC's homestay program. Many of our sites offer you the experience of staying with a local family to truly integrate into the community and understand what it's like to live where we work. While HQ staff are likely to tell you details about our approval process and why all of our homestays have minimum standards that they must meet, a proven track record of hosting volunteers, and that they are trained on how to keep you safe and healthy, those details don't really capture the true essence of the homestay program.
Below, Amy Vanderstoep, a Fellow in the Dominican Republic, pulled together great information on the homestays in the Dominican Republic, providing perspectives from FIMRC alumni. While it's just a glimpse into one project site, this speaks true of our families at every site across the globe!
Truly and Deeply Integrate Yourself!
One of the most interesting and engaging parts of participating in a FIMRC program is the opportunity to live with a local family. Each host family is so unique and special to the FIMRC family here in the DR and each presents a unique living opportunity for the volunteers. Here are some of our volunteer’s experiences and memories from living with their host families:
JJ Hoover, who lived with one of Project Restauración’s first host families, fell in love with her loving host mother and adorable host sisters.
“In the time that I spent with my family, I felt as though they became my own. I was excited about living in one of the host homes that has children and I really grew a strong, close bond with them. The family allowed me freedom in their home and my host mom was constantly reminding me that it was also my house! My room being outside of the house allowed me to have my own privacy but also encouraged me to spend time in the home to get closer to my family members. Living with the family helped me with my conversational Spanish and allowed me to feel like a greater part of the community. I now feel like I have an extended family down in Restauración!”
Andrea Weir stayed with her host mother and extended family for her two-week volunteer experience.
"Living in a host family has greatly enriched my experience here in Restauración. I feel as though I have been immersed more intricately and deeply into the community. My host mama is one of the kindest, sweetest women I’ve met. She has shown me abundant generosity and makes me extra coffee in the mornings, which I greatly need and appreciate! Conversations with my host mother have also helped me improve my Spanish. It’s great to have a feeling of ‘home’ when you’re so far away from your loved ones.”
Rick McGeehan, a fourth year medical student, came in with no Spanish background and lived with a couple with essentially no English abilities.
“My host family was incredible. They took me into their home and made me feel apart of their family. This was especially nice because I was away from my own family (wife and kids) for nearly two months. It’s not easy having a guest in your home for such a long time, but I was never made to feel as if I was a burden or in the way. They took care of me when I was ill, worried about me if I was late, and gave me all the privacy that I wanted. It was hard to say goodbye to them and I think about them often.”
There are countless other testimonies that I could provide but I can almost guarantee that they would all sound about like these: overflowing with positive memories and experiences. As you consider whether a FIMRC experience is right for you, consider the opportunity to get to know and become a part of a wonderful, loving Dominican family!