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Bonding with Jenga

A child playing Jenga.

By Genevieve M., YES Abroad 2021-2022, Turkey, from Vienna, VA

Every exchange student knows the importance of host family gifts. When I was thinking about gifts before departing to Turkey, I saw Jenga and Spot-It and knew immediately they would be a great way to bond with my host siblings. Even though packing Jenga made my suitcase overweight, it was worth it! On my first night with my host family, I gave them their gifts and we all played Jenga and Spot-It together. This quickly became an evening tradition during my first two weeks in Turkey!

Jenga and Spot It games

I am a competitive person by nature, so when my entire host family, including my host aunt and uncle, challenged me to a game of Jenga I was excited. We all crowded around the tower as each family member took turns pulling out blocks. It was the most intense game of Jenga I had ever played. Even though I lost, playing Jenga allowed me to bond with my host family. 

I felt comfortable being myself as we all held our breath every time the tower began to shake. In addition to Jenga, playing Spot-It with my host siblings allowed me to share with my host siblings about American baseball and some related English words. This high-speed matching game brought out all our competitive sides! We laughed and fought over who had found the match first.

Two children playing a card game on the floor.

Playing Jenga and Spot-It helped ease the initial awkwardness that both sides can experience with a host family. As we all focused on keeping the tower up, I felt a sense of comfort sitting in the family room playing Jenga with them. We play Jenga and spot-it at least once a week and I love competing with my host family!