Siblings and Host Siblings: Worlds Collide II

By Mikel Quintana

During my two experiences living with host-families, first in Ecuador, and then in Spain, I have had amazing luck with my host-families, making my experiences living abroad not only something that helped me develop as a person, but also the opportunity to make life-long relationships with truly extraordinary people.
In Spain, my host-family, was beyond generous and hospitable, introducing me to extended family and friends throughout my 9 months, especially during family visits to Sevilla. Throughout the 9 months I made long-lasting relationships that formed my time in Spain and continue to impact my life.
In both my experiences living with a host-family I have been able to introduce my real family to my host-families, creating a bond not only between me and my host-family but between my family and my host-families. With my host-family in Spain, this has provided a great opportunity for my 14 year old brother Andres, and my nearly 14 year old host-brother, also named Andres.
The summer following my time in Spain, my host brother came to the US to spend his summer practicing English with my brother. Both Andres’ had a great experience, and this summer this unique exchange continues. For the first half of the summer, Spanish Andres will return to the US, and will fly back to Spain accompanied by my brother, who will spend the second half of the summer with my host-family during their summer vacations. This experience allows my brother to improve his Spanish, my host-brother to improve his English, all in a culturally immersive experience between two families who have come to know and trust each other with their 14 year old sons.
This amazing experience, which most 14 year old’s do not have, is product of my host families adventure in being a host-family, in the relationship that this has caused my family and my host-family to have, and the luck of having two 14 year old boys who both have something to gain from this experience, and who have both made an international friend in the meanwhile. For me, this exchange between my brothers provides a sense of both jealousy and excitement for my brothers. It is amazing that a program like 1+4 has not only provided me with a formative experience but has also given way to a live-forming opportunity for both my family and my host-family.


By Chastidy Vasconez

When I first met my host mom, I was surprised to learn that her husband has been living in the United States for over 15 years. He left about a year after their daughter was born to work in the U.S. so he could earn an income to support them on. One day, while we were sharing a cup of coffee, she recounted a dream she had shortly after her husband left. In her dream she stepped off a small wooden boat, her hand entwined with her husband’s. They arrived on a shore where the surrounding water was crystal clear with an abundance of fish swimming between their legs. She looked up and straight ahead was a bustling city with shiny towering buildings. I was hearing the story from the other end.

My own parents had immigrated to the United States in their 20s. I’ve only really known about my parent’s lives after moving to the United States. My parents don’t share much about their childhoods growing up, and before this gap year I never put too much thought about the families they left behind. A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit some of my father’s actual family members, who live about an eight hour bus ride away from Cuenca. Meeting some of my family members was strange – it was our first time meeting and they knew all about me from years of long distance phone calls with my aunt in the United States. My tía in Ecuador was incredibly welcoming as she was eager to make me feel at home. She served delicious plates of fritada de chancho with mote and yuca frita, while sharing stories of growing up with my father. It was around Día de los Difuntos in Ecuador, and we visited my great grandmother’s tomb, beautifully adorned with lit candles and colorful flowers. These were moments I never imagined I’d be apart of. Being surrounded by the culture and language in my father’s motherland has been such a special opportunity and I’ve appreciated being able to delve into my roots.

Musicians of Cuenca

By Jennifer Frye

I’m amazed by how friendly and helpful the music community is in Cuenca. The musicians I’ve met accept me and are genuinely interested in connecting with me. When I walk down the street carrying my cello I’m constantly stopped by strangers, inquisitive and gregarious. I feel like I’ve found another family, people who understand me and who I understand in return. People who have helped me pursue my passion thousands of miles from home. Here are my impressions of the musicians of Cuenca. 

Raquel is intense and direct, with perpetual red lipstick, and seems taller than she really is through sheer force of personality. I was brave enough to approach her after a symphony concert, nervously rehearsing lines in my head. I hesitantly asked where I could find a cello to rent. With her support and advocacy, I found a cello and joined the local university orchestra. I have the opportunity to take lessons, teach cello to youth symphony students, and even perform a concerto.

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My 1+4 Story: Evan Robison

By Evan Robison

The beginning of college can be a stressful time for many people. After months of anticipation, you are abruptly thrown into a new environment and expected to make friends, some of whom will supposedly last you your whole life. This period of stress can last a week for some, and months for others. In my high school grade, there was one other girl going to Tufts, which was a social luxury that not all Tufts students have, however, I did not know her very well and figured that I would be mostly on my own making new friends. This was before I was accepted into the 1+4 program.

One of the largely unpraised beauties of 1+4 is the social network that you have when you return to campus. In addition to the four fellows in country with me, I had eight others who shared the experience with me virtually from their respective locations, as well as 13 more from the year before me who would be sophomores when I arrived on campus. While many of my peers scrambled around to find social groups in the first weeks, I knew that I would always have my friends from 1+4 to fall back on if I had any problems. They had all gone through the same crazy experiences that I had and would be more than happy to take time out of their days to spend with me. While many students enter college knowing people on their sports teams or through various mutual friends, I had four intimate friends who had lived and worked with me for nine months, who knew me better than many friends from home did.

This is not to say that I avoided making new friends because I already had a small network at my fingertips. Instead, I felt more confident taking my time finding new friends, thus I was not pressured to latch onto the first group of people that I met. Tufts has so many different kinds of people, and it takes time to find people that you can feel completely comfortable around. Being a 1+4 alumnus allowed me to take the first few weeks as a time of exploration and wait until I found the right group, knowing that I already had a tight group in which to confide when I needed it.

A Week Out of Home-Sweet-Home

By Rujen Amatya


After spending two and a half months in Florianopolis, I finally got the opportunity to leave my state, Santa Catarina. Our next training seminar was scheduled in Morretes, a historic city in the state of Parana. This was the first time I got the chance to spend some time out of my host family’s house. I was really excited for it, partly due to the fact that I could meet all my friends and mostly because I was leaving everything behind for a week. 
We left Florianopolis at around 8am that day. After a long six-hour bus ride, we arrived at Curitiba, the capital of Parana. At Curitiba, we explored the famous Jardim Botânico and played some fun games inside its premises. We spent the night there in Curitiba and were ready for our visit to Morretes. Even though the bus ride to Morretes from Curitiba was only an hour, we took a four-hour train to enjoy the amazing landscapes, rich animal and vegetation biodiversity, canyons, gorges and waterfalls of the Serra do Mar. I felt that I was in the ‘real’ Brazil then. 

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