Atika fitriani (INA YES to USA YP 16–17)

“The more I travel, the more I know I haven’t seen”. My dream to go to America began about 9 years ago after my social study teacher told me that America is one of “Melting Pot” country where many different types of people blend together as one. Youth Exchange and Study program makes my dream come true by letting me to step on the land of freedom and diversity, America.

In months, I’ve learned the most significant thing of become “A more diverse and open-minded-person” than I used to be. Travel brings people from all different cultures and backgrounds together to share in new experiences and knowledges, this related to the quote I mentioned above. My school has over a thousand students, some of them are African-American, Mexican, Asian-Mexican, Native American and many others. I suprisely know when my Mexican friend told me that Mexico has 2 largest pyramids in the world because before that I thought only Egypt has the biggest pyramids, or to know a simple thing like filipinos eat rice 3 times a day as Indonesian do. Telling each other new things about ourselves-and our cultures makes everyone feel closer and more connected. Besides, we also have special needs student as part of our school. It’s amazed me of how they get along so well, see each other as the same human-being, and encourage each other in the game. We see special needs kids unusually back home, they go to special needs school because their parent worry if their kids will get bullied in regular school. Here, I’m really involved in Special Olympic Unified Sport where I can share joy and play sport with special needs student(special needs buddies). I am going to miss their positive energy they showed me, the warm smile they gave me and the lesson they taught me that “Diversity is beautiful”. Sometimes life really has a way of letting me know that it is so beautiful and I should really sit down and appreciate it for a moment.

Being an Exchange Student itself has its beauty, confusion and tediousness all wrapped up in a couple days placed a few thousand kilometres away from my comfort zone and however it’s not always easy for the first few months. I found a lot of differences either good or bad things, but then again “Diversity” made me think twice what I concern about. People came to US from various countries and purpose; background and characters, in spite of that they’re united and work together to make the Nation greater. As a YES Student, it has given me chances to think things from various angles and view points; to be more accepting instead judging; to see the problem as an opportunity to learn what to fix; to have better understanding of people’s differences and respect them as best I can, those all are wrapped in a word, Open-minded.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” — John A. Shedd. My life is pretty much like a ship. I’d love to stay in my homeland, but I need to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and explore myself. Now, I finally found my other comfort zone in the other part of the world by being an exchange student. After all the experiences that I’ve been through, my life feels different. I’m more aware of everything that happen around me. Now the ship is ready to go back to the harbor, as I’m ready to go back to my home country in 4 months. I hope that I’ll be able to provide more contribution for my better home community.

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