“I know these all are the things that I have never done before, but practicing them and experiencing how each one of those arts is like, is one of the greatest feeling of all times.” Read Nayab Mir”s, an KLYES student, year success story. A bit long but interesting indeed.
I arrived in America on September 1st 2012. Meeting people from different countries, talking, sharing, and listening to them was in itself a great experience. I was learning and teaching at the same time, but as they say, it was just a start. I was excited and fully pumped up about how I was going to spend my exchange year in the United States. Coming from a busy city with a population of 12 million people in a small town with a population of thirteen thousand people was a culture shock for me. I had never thought of experiencing a life with people who are independent, with people whose pets are one of their family members, in a country where everyone has freedom, where I will have to push the button up to turn the light on and learn to say “the magic words” for whatever I did or was about to do. Well this was where the experience started.
I was placed with a family in a small town, Mexico in the State of Missouri. A place, where you never know how the weather is going to be like. If it’s raining one day, it would be warm the next day and snowing the day later. Getting adjusted to this changing weather was also a big challenge for me. Getting snow, and then getting a school day off just because it snowed, was pretty exciting. Speaking of the high school, in my country, we don’t get to choose what we want to study during our academic year at the school. We have a specific course which we have to go through by the end of the year and take exams. When in America, I was asked, “What subjects would you like to choose?” I stared at the counselor for a while and then asked if we really get to choose our subjects! That was the happiest moment for me, because I was going to get to choose the subjects which sounded interesting and exciting. I chose the coolest subjects which I had never thought I’d get a chance to study and get honor roll for, in all the semesters up till now! Finding friends at the high school was for sure a difficult job but not impossible. I never knew in such a short period of time I would become the favorite of my teachers. Hearing comments from them like, “your parents have grown you well” or “America needs to learn from you and your country” made me feel like I really was representing my country in a way that I was supposed to.
I never thought I would take part in activities such as theatre, live performances, speech tournaments, choir concerts and sports like soccer. I know these all are the things that I have never done before, but practicing them and experiencing how each one of those arts is like, is one of the greatest feeling of all times.
The country where I belong from is not a place where a lot of people have pets. In The United States, one of the things that I experienced was that almost every family has a pet. They just treat them like their own family member. They talk to them, they sleep with them. They even play with them, which at first I thought was strange. But after spending a couple of months here, I think pets are ones best friends! I don’t know how I changed from hating pets to loving them. But one thing that I’d like to mention is that I am really attached to the dog in my host family, and I will miss her a lot!
Speaking of host families, I often get to talk to other exchange students too. No matter how delightfully they said they are close to their hosts, they still feel the absence of their natural parents and get homesick. I’d like to say, from the day I’ve been placed with this family, “I HAVE NEVER BEEN HOMESICK!” My host family is just the best family ever. Every exchange student would always dream of having a host family like mine. They are my true inspiration. I just feel like home, I can tell them whatever, I share all my problems with them, and they figure out solutions for each one of them. I just love them so much! Here I would mention that a lot of my friends had problems with their community representatives, they said they did not have a nice representative, or their reps don’t listen to them, or don’t help them out. But my area representative is just the best rep ever. One call and she is always there. She always helps me and appreciates me for whatever I do. She always tells me that she is proud of me, and is proud of whatever I have done up till now. She motivates me and encourages me to do more and more. Amy is a great, nice and a very helpful person.
When I sit down and start brainstorming things that I have done and am doing in my exchange year, my imagination never stops. I always think of more and more things that I have taken part in. One of those would be volunteering or community service. When I was back in my country, I had never done community service before, but because we are exchange students, we are always encouraged to do community service. I have taken part in different community service activities, and up till now, I have a total of two hundred and fifty-nine community service hours. I have tried to serve my host community with great variety and magnitude. I worked with educational programs, churches, hospitals and differently-abled and environmental projects. I devoted two hours daily after school tutoring rural students in the Next Step Program. My students ranged from kindergarteners to pregnant teens. I devoted weekends to judging speech tournaments at my American high school. I also passionately served as an ambassador for my Muslim faith and Pakistani culture by giving presentations about my country to breakdown stereotypes and misconceptions, and I am sure I have been very successful in that up till now. Giving presentations about my country has become a favorite job for me. Till now I have given 49 successful presentations at different places around the town and another one is scheduled for later this month. After which I will have a nice figure for my presentation count.
At the Celebration of Nations event held in Owensville, MO, I applied traditional henna tattoos to all participants. I served the local Baptist church helping at the Halloween event and preparing Thanksgiving dinner. I tried to show great compassion and support for those grieving when serving the County Health Unit in a memorial service event. Lastly I socialized with and sang songs to handicapped people and planted trees for 12 hours in my neighborhood. Currently I am working with the live performances for the special children of my American high school. It’s known as, “The Jelly Bean Conspiracy” I work with special children and help them in the play. I have a couple more places, where in the following days. I have to do my community service at. Through this work I have learned that serving the community brings change. Now I am eager to bring change to my home country through volunteerism.
Looking at my dedication to the community, my placement organization rewarded me with a President’s volunteer service award and a free trip. I got a chance to choose one free trip to any of the cities in the United States, and I chose California where I will soon be going and I cannot tell how excited I am for that trip.
I had also applied for the Civic Education Workshop in Washington D.C from February 10-16, and I got a chance to attend that workshop, further more I was nominated as a social media specialist, and did dedicative work. I was presented a certificate on the last day, as a social media person, and also won the photo contest during the week. I have been taking part in different activities since I’ve been here, and have tried to make my year wonderful! Listening to what people think, and what their perspectives about my country Pakistan and all Muslim people around the world are, is just very hurtful. People have such wrong misconceptions and ideals about how we are like. Giving presentations I think is a great way to clear all the misconceptions and become a bridge between both beautiful countries and beliefs. I’d like to thank all the people who have become a great help for me, for making my exchange year successful! And I hope I’ll keep up with the work that I have been doing!