By Devynne Nelons

The day before I arrived in Cochabamba, Rafael was born. He was the newest addition to my Bolivian host family. I was excited to meet him of course, but saying that I was nervous to live with a family I had never met for two whole months is an understatement.

Luckily, I shared my internship with one of my good friends and classmates, but we lived with two separate families in different parts of the city. And so, within a few hours of arriving in Cochabamba I was alone with my host dad, Jimmy. My host mom was still in the hospital with her newborn. Jimmy is originally from Bolivia, but he spent nearly 10 years in Western Europe working as a chef. Consequently, we were able to converse in both Spanish and English. This was something I was very grateful for at the end of a long day when my brain was fried and Spanish just wouldn’t work. Not only did Jimmy prepare some of the most delicious food I had during my trip, but he was also an amazing resource; we discussed the local political situation, Bolivian history and the best weekend travel destinations.

He and my host mom, Alina, could not have been more hospitable. Alina works as a surgeon at a hospital a few miles from home, and she indulged every question I had about the Bolivian health care system. Once a month, her hospital hosts a lecture on various topics, and I was fortunate enough to accompany her on the first Thursday of July and August. The first lecture included multiple presentations on new technology for early breast cancer detection. The second lecture focused on rare conditions of the liver and pancreas. With nursing as my post-graduation aspiration, these lectures were of special interest to me. While I must admit that I didn’t understand the entirety of the presentations, they were still very insightful and intriguing. The additional information they provided me was the perfect addition to my public health internship experience. Public health and everything aside though, living with my host family was an encouraging, worthwhile and overall enjoyable growth experience. If you’re considering a home-stay, I highly recommend it.

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