It is tough to start college, and being in a new country does not make it any better. However, Cito Cruz knows the best way to cure homesickness is through the stomach. Every Friday, Cruz and his wife, Sue, will make enough home-cooked food to feed fifty , and drives international students and their friends to his home for a big meal. Some students will be deep in conversation and enjoying chicken teriyaki and miso soup, while others are playing games and laughing out loud. “There’s something about the house gives it a very homely atmosphere” explained Cruz.
Students know their ways around Cruz’s house; they would pull out the foldable table and chairs one they arrived, Cruz’s three-legged dog would be greeted and stroked; she had a content expressions that say, “Welcome back, old friends.” “Ladies first!” Cruz would shout when the food is ready, and students would hurry and grab the plates and folk and eagerly wait in line.
Cruz, who have been hosting these dinners around the world for more than thirty years, knows how tough it being an international student can be. “I was a foreign student myself long ago; nothing compares to [the crave of] food, hot sauce and rice.” Cruz was also in a host family, like many of Colby’s international students. His host family once drove 150 miles to take care of Cruz, who literally got sick from missing home; back then, a letter took at least two weeks to reach his family, and making a phone call was expensive. Cruz’s host family gave him the master bedroom and slept in the basement for a week. He loved his host family, and decided to share the same kindness with Colby’s international students. He became a host family when his family moved to Maine because of his wife’s career, and also because of his intentions to write and publishes books. He brought a house by a lake; one of his main considerations when he brought the house was that it needed to be big enough to accommodate the students he would invite.
Being a faithful Christian, Cruz see his actions as his devotion to God, which prompt him to love his neighbors as his own; also, with his children all off to college, cooking for the student is just like cooking for his children once again.
“There’s something about food that bonds people together,” said Cruz. In Cruz’s house, you can see international students and American students working together to win a game of Pictionary. “For the international students, it [international dinner] makes them easier to simulate into the American culture; for the American students, it raises their awareness of other cultures,” said Cruz.