Isra pauses for a photo before heading out to Tillicum Village on Blake Island.

Embracing the Mysteries of America

I feel that I am one of the luckiest people in this world!

When I first came to New York for my orientation, I was fascinated by everything in this country. There were tall green trees, happy smiling energetic people, and above all the mysteries that I had to uncover and learn from in order to make most of this golden opportunity.

My host family is great, funny, and sometimes very crazy as the two little dogs in the house play and bring ruckus and craziness with them. My school is also fun and crazy, and I introduced myself by embarrassing myself in the first two days. During my first afternoon at school, I was not able to find the bus stop, so the bus left me. The second day, I knew where the bus stop was, because my host mother showed me, but I thought that I would take a shortcut to get to where the bus was. That day, I was welcomed by a dead end, and the bus left again. I learned the hard way that buses leave very quickly and that I do not have time to be finding new ways.

The students in my school are very nice and funny, and every day I seem to learn a new thing about American culture. I am also very thankful to my local coordinator, Joy. She is a very welcoming, funny, and kind person. She took us all to Tillicum Village on Blake Island, and there we learned a lot about how the Native Americans lived. I had a lot of fun with the other exchange students in Washington.

I know that I still have a lot to learn from this mysterious country, but I am sure that I have the will and the support from the kind people around me. I am sure at the end of my exchange year I will know I got the most from it.

—Isra (PAX Means Peace Scholar, Somaliland), hosted by the Miller family (WA)