At the height of the Windy City’s unpredictable, frigid weather, 13 pequeños from NPH Mexico flew into Chicago for their musical pequeño tour. Chaperoned by a former pequeño, they were ready for 3 weeks of singing and dancing performances at various locations, including Jones College Prep: a high school located right in the heart of downtown Chicago.
Soon after they arrived, the pequeños were whisked from the airport to meet up with their first of three different host families. It is with these host families that they would be staying with throughout their visit; the pequeños are temporarily taken into the homes of generous host families and treated as part of that family.
Opening the doors of her home to the pequeños for the second year in a row, Janet Pasquesi was ecstatic “to be around the life” that the girls and boys bring. While hosting during this musical pequeño tour in spring 2019, Janet had many fun activities planned. Together with the girls she hosted during the first week of the tour, she visited The Art Institute of Chicago, looked at Lake Michigan, and went out to dinner in the near suburbs. However, it was at this dinner--among other places--where they ran smack into what may seem to be a daunting obstacle: the language barrier. Most host families, including Janet, do not speak Spanish, and the pequeños speak little to no English; despite this, new ways to communicate are always formed. Whether it was sign language or online resources, there was always a way to talk. At this particular dinner, Janet requested a waiter that spoke Spanish and found herself and her daughter relying on Google translate.
Commenting on the closeness of all the pequeños, Janet explains how she had two separate rooms for the two girls she hosted, yet by the morning they were in the same bed. During her second week, she hosted three boys who she saw “picked up bits of English quickly.” One of these pequeños fell sick, and Janet’s son immediately set the sick boy up with some food and a television show to keep him occupied. Even with one of the boys feeling under the weather, this allowed them to bond even more.
In addition to their own fun, all the host families and pequeños went to fun events as a group. They held a lively pizza party where Janet says, “Everybody had a great time.” With phrases like “full of life,” “extremely organized,” and “appreciative,” Janet paints the picture of the fun, polite guests that added an extra level of soul to her home for two weeks that sped by. During the third week of their tour, Janet was not hosting; however, she found herself requesting to spend even more time with the pequeños.
No matter age or native language, the pequeños and host families always connect in an extraordinary way that will never be forgotten. In the words of host Tricia Dill, “Learning their [the pequeños’] stories and spending time with them touched our hearts in a way that will make us forever supporters of NPH.”