Every night, I spend quality time with my host family. Of course, we’ll talk about the day’s events. And we might also share a treat like a plate of homemade oatmeal cookies.
But the one thing that we always do is play a few rounds of UNO, the popular American family card game.
Playing UNO has created a real bond with me and my host family. It’s our chance to come together as a unit to learn, love and most importantly, to laugh.
This is the most important part of my day as a Peace Corps Volunteer because it simply brightens my spirits.
There are other UNO benefits, too.
Four-year-old Katleho has picked up new English words and phrases while playing the game. When someone puts down a Wild card and names a color, Katleho will play the correct card because he knows his hues and numbers. And when he catches his big brother, Tsepiso, peeping at his hand, he’ll scream in English, “You’re looking at my cards!” (He learned that phrase from yours truly because that’s exactly what I say when I peep him looking at my cards.)
Another benefit of playing UNO with my host family that the kids have learned strengthened their strategy.
Tsepiso, ten-years-old, has learn how to be strategic when playing UNO. In the beginning, he’d quickly put down his beloved Draw 4 card. But now, after observing the master (me!) he’s learned to wait until the right moment to play his strongest cards. When someone excitedly announces “UNO!” Tsepiso will then put down his Draw 4. Smart boy. He wins most of our games now.
My host mom has also used UNO as a creative form of punishment.
When the boys act up, they sit out games. They try to give my host mom the sad puppy face but it never works. It’s the perfect punishment.
I really love when the kids win, though. They’ll lift my portable light bulb high above their heads and scream, “Tsejana! Ke hlotse!” (Trophy. I’m the winner!)
Winners they are.