Experience with the Gilbert and Liliane Vinck family
After a long journey we arrived at the Pikkeling. We soon forgot our fatigue at the welcoming. Everybody was happy to see us. We were very nervous because we didn’t know who would be our host family. The only thing we knew was that the three of us would stay together: Martino, Rene and I.
When the director started reading the names on his list of the family-for-one-week with the related dancing couples, a funny vibe started. They started hugging and the new “kids” got a warm welcome. When it was our turn, the director started describing our “daddy”: an ex-contributor of the festival, a hard worker, a tomato grower, a countryman that breeds animals. Mainly chickens. Hearing this, Rene whispered to me “hopefully we’re not staying there…”. Rene is scared of animals, especially feathered ones. Rene got pale as his premonition got reality, it was a very comical situation. A big, slender man with deep, bright eyes introduced himself: Gilbert. We were enchanted immediately, even though he didn’t speak Spanish or English.
Suitcases in the car and off we went to our new home. On the way, my son Martino, started asking a lot of questions to Gilbert. We arrived at a beautiful big house where Gilbert introduced us to “mummy” Lilian. Once the suitcases were unpacked we were immediately pampered and the conversations started well. Luckily Lilian spoke a bit of Spanish and English.
That was the start of a week full of beautiful memories and life experiences, not because of the activities at the festival but because of our experiences at the beautiful house. Lilian and Gilbert didn’t only open their doors to their home for us, but also the doors to their heart. We still think about the long conversations, sometimes till deep into the night. Across boarders and languages, we shared our lives that are so different.
The week passed by and each day we felt more affection for this family. How could we ever forget the delicious food, or the time Gilbert learned me how to drive his tractor. Or the time my son proudly jumped on a horse. And not to forget, all the efforts Gilbert and Lilian did to make us feel at home, which they did with success.
At the end of the week we started packing our cases, with a lot of reluctance. We would have wanted to stay a little longer.But the moment of goodbye had arrived and the suitcases were loaded in the car again. We were surprised that only Lilian was going with and Gilbert already said goodbye. Martino hugged him and started crying. Gilbert pampered him for a week and in this short period of time they became closer. Gilbert became very emotional and gave me and Rene a big hug before we left, with big regrets and a low courage. Away from the lovely family and our house-for-a-week.
This experience has changed our lives without a doubt. We will remember Gilbert and Lilian with all our heart.
Big thanks to the Pikkeling organisation and all their volunteers who made this feast possible!
Rene, Martino and Barbara.
Experience with the Hugo and Sonja Remy – Hamerijckx family, Pikkeling 2009
“We often think of the 2009 Pikkeling festival. It was in Belgium and it was great. We made real friends. It was the Remy family. We were their guests, we lived with them. They took care of everything. They made us feel at home. The food was delicious.
The communication was fantastic. We exchanged information about our countries: traditions, culture, food. The Remy family showed us Gent, Bruges and Brussels. We liked these places a lot.
We are very grateful to the Remy family for their hospitality and kindness. We are still good friends and are happy when they visit us.”
Sergey en Natasha Filipchuk
Yunist Podillya – Ukraine
Experience with the Callebaut family, Pikkeling 2011
“It was the summer of 2011, The last days of July to be more specific. After a long journey we got off the bus. “This is Aalst” they said. At the beginning of this festival we didn’t know yet which other groups would participate. But one thing was certain: Mexico would be present with all it’s colors and joy.
I saw many families waiting in a building where the welcome party took place. For me it was the first time I would have to live for a few days in a house with people I didn’t knew. I supposed they would be friendly. Yet I was restless and impatient to start knowing them. Then I was introduced to Danny. Someone who spoke our native language (Spanish). This gave me more confidence and relief. We drank a soda and afterwards I met his wife, Nele. A shy person, but with a sincere and beautiful smile. In her arms, a beautiful 6 months old baby named Loena. Since our meeting the Callebaut family gave me a friendly and kind impression. They had a beautiful, modern house.
I remember the joy Danny had while telling me about the little attentions he got from formal foreign guests from countries all over the world. They showed us “the guestroom” where we could recover from our exhausting journey. In a nutshell, the Callebaut family was a real family for my mother and me.
We got a chance to visit a beautiful city, named Ghent. Danny explained the habits, traditions and history of the city and Belgium in general. When they took us to a pitta bar, which were tasty, it reminded me of the Mexican food culture. These days were so much fun we organized a meal together with the other host families that were hosting the other members of our group. Everyone prepared something and the dining table changed in a huge buffet. The Callebaut family made scampi, escargots (snails) and frog legs. It was delicious. My mother made some Mexican specialties: Burritas with beef, chilaquies and beans with bacon. Both the Belgian and Mexican specialties were very tasty and much appreciated.
The days passed by. The day of saying good-bye has come. All the families gathered in one place, not so far from where we met. It was a cloudy day, in the sky as well as in our hearts. It was hard to say good-bye to the people that gave us so much hospitality, time and love during our stay. These days will always be remembered with great appreciation. I can guarantee I’m not the only one thinking like that.
I would like to thank all the people that “adopted” us as a member of their family during this short but pleasant period. I would like to specially thank the Callebaut family for their warmheartedness and hospitality. All these small things made us a close family, despite the big differences and short amount of time we got to spend together. Our house will always be open to you with great pleasure.”
Many thanks en greetings from Mexico