PAX international students from Ukraine and Poland with their community coordinator in Minnesota
Diana (left) with coordinator Kris DeMattos and Kasia (Poland)

Multicultural Camping

I have been in the U.S. for one month, and one of the most fascinating things here is diversity. You can feel it everywhere: at school, in town, and at church. You can find a person from every single country here and feel the influence of different cultures.

The first time I experienced it was on my flight to the U.S. Together with other FLEX students from Ukraine, we arrived at the Frankfurt airport in Germany. There, we met exchange students from Armenia, Poland, Kenya, Bahrain, and Kuwait. I was amazed by the fact that we all came from different parts of the world but were gathered in the same airplane to go to the same country.

In my state, Minnesota, many ethnicities are presented. When I arrived in Rochester, MN, the first person whom I met after my host family was Ukrainian. Also, I was very surprised that my German teacher is from Russia. At such moments, you understand that the world is really cohesive.

Also, one of the things about which I was extremely excited was meeting other exchange students from Minnesota. And my dream was fulfilled this weekend. Kris DeMattos, our local coordinator, organized camping for 25 students who are placed in Minnesota.

To be honest, this was one of my favorite activities in the U.S. It was so wonderful to realize that several months ago we were still in our native countries, unaware of this event. However, now, united by the desire to learn and develop, we are together in an hour's radius from each other. The feeling of multiculturalism soared in the air, mixing with the smoke of the campfire. That night, songs in different languages could be heard, which gave everyone an even greater sense of unity. It seemed that boundaries did not exist, and we could discuss very personal things with each other.

I think that Chester Woods Park has never experienced such a great amount of people from different nations. On the camping trip, we had people from the U.S., Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Italy, Spain, China, Mexico, and Israel. As a result, I learned some words in Hebrew, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Armenian, and Polish.

I really enjoyed learning about other cultures and sharing mine with others.

I am extremely grateful to Kris DeMattos for organizing such an amazing event. I know that it was difficult, but the result was worth the effort. I am looking forward to participating in such events even more and meeting everyone again!

—Diana (FLEX, Ukraine) hosted by the Putnam family (MN)