The past 7 weeks have been challenging, to say the least. We have always had a positive and memorable experience with all of our previous Home Stay students, until now. This experience was so disconcerting for us, that we have decided to no longer accept any more students.
Naturally we have had our share of difficulties with previous students, but we were always able to overcome them quickly; either from clarifying the language barriers or persistance from both parties. The biggest problem we had with Honoka was her seemingly manipulative and sometimes child-like behaviours.
At first we thought this was a series of simple misunderstandings, or perhaps her grasp on the English language wasn’t as fluent as she first led us to believe. However, we quickly discovered that it was simply her personality playing on these ambiguities; like a child testing their boundaries. We would try and persist with getting to what was bothering her or what she was trying to communicate, but more often than not the communication would end with her staring blankly at us, or the wall, or just walking away. She would often be blunt, rude and inconsiderate. When we questioned her about her actions, she would then somewhat try to blame her poor English skills, or change her story completely.
There were times when she would attack the kids at a maturity level that was below theirs, even though she is twice their age. From demanding that we only cook her Japanese style meals every night. Not appreciating that we were solely on tank water in a drought. These were just the tip of the iceberg. We often felt that she just didn’t want to be around us or do anything with us. She would constantly want to do things with her friends and other host families rather than with us. Naturally, we took into account that she is still a teenage girl and tried to accommodate her wishes where ever we could.
The overall feeling we got was one of someone who wanted a tour guide, chef and maid service. She never showed us she wanted to assimilate into our lifestyle and cultural experiences.
In the end it was pretty obvious that the whole family was ameliorated by her departure. While this wasn’t the most positive experiences overall, we did have some enjoyable moments with Honoka. Our weekly Parkrun events and the Peak to Park fun run, were enjoyable moments.
We all do wish her a safe journey home and hope she will use this experience to grow.