My name is Fatin Areena Azlan (Reena), from Malaysia. I was very honored and humbled to be part of this life-changing experience in Montana. It was the first weekend in Missoula, whom Anawaydicyta (Hana) from Indonesia and I were hosted by our host family (Chic and Nancy) at their very beautiful home.
A home that aged 125 years old, believe it or not?!
I would like to share the few key lessons that I have learnt throughout my homestay with them.
1. Blending into different cultures
Firstly, when we arrived at their home, we were surprised at their culture of wearing shoes in the house. Back in our home town, we always take off our shoes upon entering the house. This was rather new to me but I blended in to their culture and respect that. Secondly, the value of trust that exists among their neighborhood. I was surprised to know that they pretty much do not lock their house when leaving or even staying in the house. This is rare in Malaysia and Indonesia whereby we are compulsory to lock our house at all times. I was really amazed by this culture. I hope in the future we can embed this trustworthy value in Malaysia and Indonesia’s neighborhood.
Hana, Me, Chic and Nancy
2. Choose organic, stay healthy
Chic and Nancy enjoy gardening that involves organic vegetable garden and fruit orchard. Their garden consists of chard, kohlrabi, squash, kale, pepper, chili, basil leaves, raspberry fruit, lavender plant, roses and many more. Furthermore, they also raise bees and earthworms! The first day when we arrived in their home, we were invited to their garden to help pluck vegetables for dinner. Personally, I was very excited because back in my home, I will just go to the supermarket to get the raw materials to cook. However, I have never seen produces right from the garden. Not to forget, in every meal that Nancy prepared for us will definitely had vegetables, no salt or even no MSG. How healthy that is, you tell me! Staying healthy starts from home, and definitely it starts in YOU.
My happy face after helping Chic and Nancy in their organic garden
3. Acceptance of other religions
Both Hana and I appreciate how they were really acceptance to our belief, diet restrictions, daily prayers and our hijab. Basically, when we were at their home, we literally wear our headscarf 24 hour, unless we were in our room by ourselves. They really consider our daily prayers that we will need to meet, thus making sure that the activities planned out for the day will not restrict us to our prayers (Touching moment No. 1). Next, both of them tried to ensure that the meal they prepared were according to our taste bud. For instance, Hana loves her food to be spicy, so Nancy prepared the dish to be spicy enough (Touching moment No. 2). After that, Chic was very helpful to drive us around, waited for us (girls) for shopping, and his home made yogurt ice-cream, fruit jams, spaghetti sauce were AWESOME! Not to forget, he helped me fix my luggage bag! (Touching moment No. 3). On top of that, we were lucky to witness our host parents to sing in a community chorus in conjunction to the 11th Annual Festival of Peace and the 5th Annual Walk-A-Mile for Peace in the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. This event has made me realize how supportive and open-minded the Americans of other religions. It was really interesting! Throughout the weekend, we visited Farmers Market, Thrift Shop (YWCA and Goodwill), ice-cream shop (Sweet Peaks), Roots Festival, Rattlesnake Garden Cafe, Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Marchie’s Nursery and Supermarket (Good Food Store).
Best waffle in Farmers Market
Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
A walk in the park
Proud Chic with his organic garden
Historical Museum at Fort Missoula
Thanks alot Chic! (Dad if you’re reading this, bag was able to open by breaking the zipper! Sorry!)
Home-made spaghetti sauce
Home-made yogurt ice-cream (Raspberry flavor, yumm!)
Look at how organized these vegetables in Good Food Store. *jawdropped*
In a nutshell, we would like to extend our appreciation to both Nancy and Chic for having us in their home, and for everything they have done to us for the past 3 days. Indeed, we were beyond grateful to have them accepting the way we are. I will miss both of you so much. Till then, take care and may God bless you always 🙂 🙂
“Not all Muslims are a terrorist” – Nancy