Future Leaders Exchange program participant from Turkmenistan with her host sister in front of their New York home
Aylara's just another American girl

Falling in Love with New York

Since I arrived in the United States, I have discovered a lot of new things. Everything is new for me and completely different. But even after a short amount of time, I realized that I love this life. When I arrived here, I immediately realized that Americans are very kind people. Even if you do not know each other, they will still say "hello" to you or "good morning."

I also fell in love with these lovely houses, since in my country I am more familiar with skyscrapers. And the squirrels everywhere, I'm shocked. I had only seen squirrels in a zoo before.

Of course, everything for me is new and different, and during the first days it was hard. People spoke so quickly that sometimes I didn’t understand them. But day by day I’m getting used to it, and everything is going well.

Recently, I cooked pies with cabbage with my host mum. This is my favorite dish, and I used to make it at home. She loved it. I next learned how to cook American cookies with peanut butter. Peanut butter is the coolest thing ever created.

I also went to October Fest, where I had an incredibly fun time. There was dancing, laughter, and fun. This holiday is German, and there were people dressed up in German dresses. And then, they started inviting people to dance, and I thought, “Why not?” We learned German dances. A couple of days later, I became a small “star” of Hamburg, since my photo appeared in an issue of the Hamburg newspaper. This is an unforgettable memory filled with happiness and fun.

I also visited Niagara Falls. Such beauty cannot be described in words. It is the most beautiful thing I have seen in my entire life. And it is in visiting such places that you begin to love life.

This morning, we went to the farmer’s market and bought food. I adore that. And then, we started to decorate the house, because very soon it will be Halloween. In my country, it is not such a popular holiday. Therefore, for me it is very fun to decorate the house, put pumpkins out, and prepare a costume, despite the fact that I am 18 years old.

—Aylara (FLEX, Turkmenistan), hosted by the Aldrich family (NY)