Sunday, June 25, 2006

Home - and what it means to me

Home - what exactly does that word mean? Hard to explain. If you have stayed all your life long in the same place, you might be able to give a pretty definite answer to that question. If you have lived in several places - well, it might be more difficult. If you have lived on a bunch of continents - well, then it might be pretty difficult sometimes.
After having stayed in North Carolina for only nine months, I realized that I started to call Carolina home. Strange. I didn't quite understand it. But it felt right. But at the same time Switzerland is still home and sometimes other people got confused when I was referring to both Carolina and Switzerland as home. It was always immediately clear to me which one I meant - but I called them the same way and therefore for everybody else, it was not obvious which one I was talking about.

This week was the last week of classes for the students here in Samtse. They'll have exam this week and break will start the week after. It'll get pretty empty down here without all the students and I'm already missing them. I had a good time together with them.
We had our last FIT class on Wednesday - so I invited my students for dinner after the class. We ordered the food in the canteen, took it up to the classroom, and had just a really good time. We got together - and well, if Bhutanese guys get together, everybody has to sing. Not just all folks together but individually. And because I was the chief guest, I had to start. Hehe, I was singing 'Alperoose' but couldn't really remember all of the text. The students sung English, Bhutanese, Nepali, and Hindi songs. Was amazing and I enjoyed it a lot. After the social session, we got food. Sure, I had to get first (as chief guest). Was really good and I enjoyed it a lot!
Then, on Friday, the students told me that they'd organize a dinner for me on Saturday night. They organized food, prepared the classroom nicely and just did a great job. We took another time pictures, were dancing, singing (I was singing La Montanara), and playing games. The food was excellent - but that's not what this whole thing was about. It was about getting together. You know, it was one of those moments that you cannot really describe. You look into their eyes and no words are necessary. You cannot capture it rationally - and that's ok that way.
And sitting on the floor with all those guys and eating a traditional Bhutanese meal, I realized that this place started to feel like home. And I started to understand what home means to me. It's not about a physical place. It's not about all the nice materialistic stuff that we can get in Switzerland. It's not about all the convenience. It's not about luxury. It's not about a language. It's not about the fact that you grew up in a place and are used to it.

It's all about the folks. It's all about the ideas.
You might not be able to understand this. You might even be offended. But in all the time here in Bhutan, I have never really missed Switzerland. I have missed Switzerland when I stayed in the US. But not here. I miss my family and my friends; very true. But not Switzerland.

Well, that evening was one of the moments that makes it worth staying abroad and fighting all the hard battles that you have to fight. You learn a lot - and sometimes, you even feel like crying. Not because you are sad but because you are really happy.
Guys, enjoy life!
Almost all the boys of my class.

Almost all the women of my class.

Bhutanese scenery.

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