Blog Archives

Student of the Month- Muhammad Umer Janjua.

Yes, it’s that time of the month when we present you with the most honorable mention for any exchange student on the forum; student of the month. This month, we are presenting you with the student who adjusted in his host environment very easily, made new friends from such a diverse culture, was elected as the Homecoming king and much more. His name is Muhammad Umer Janjua. Read about his great experience so far in his own words. 

“For me, transition from a Pakistani High school into a Private American Catholic High school was one of the

Imagemost exciting aspects of my exchange year, a journey I’ll surely cherish. Coming from where your teacher changes the classroom to where the moment the bell rings the hallways are flooded with students going to their next class, it was just one of the numerous new experiences I had. The people were very welcoming and embracing.  

The day I went for registration was quite a memorable one. After we were done with the paperwork, this kind lady took us for a tour around the school. After a visiting a couple of hallways and the gym, as impatient as I am, I asked her if I could go to an actual classroom. So, we just went into a random classroom (It was my future class) and I just went in with a big smile plastered across my face and just said, “Hi Guys!”. For a moment everybody stared at me and then instantly everybody burst into laughter and all of a sudden four guys come up, introduce themselves and shake my hands. The teacher, after being successful at getting calmed down after all the laughing, asked me if I was the exchange student they were expecting and that he could already think that we were going to have a good year. Later that night I went to the football game with those four guys.

From being the Homecoming King, getting casted in the fall play, being my school’s mascot, crazy Halloween parties to celebrating Eid with friends from school, High school has definitely been a highlight of my year so far.

Many exchange students are nervous when they’re going for their first day at school but for me it was more like, “Let’s Do This!”. Dressed up in my native attire I went about the hallways, with some people looking at the weird looking foreigner with confused gestures. In all my classes I introduced myself and got acquainted with the atmosphere. During break assembly, all the school got gathered for announcements and prayer. The announcer told everybody about me and instantly I grasped the opportunity to introduce myself. I got up and introduced myself with a couple of jokes here and there with it being a light and funny introduction. The response was amazing. Everybody was thrilled and moments ago in the same hallways where nobody was paying attention to me, now everybody was like, “Hey Umer!”, “How’s it going Umer?”, “Welcome to the States Umer!”. Now everybody in school knew me but I didn’t. It took me nearly a

 month to get all the names straight. I always seemed to confuse Brady and Briar though.

I also got elected as the Homecoming King as I had made friends pretty quickly. Being the Homecoming King was definitely an amazing experience and having the Homecoming Queen as your date definitely multiplies the thrill of being to a high school dance for the first time. The whole election process was very exciting and it was definitely a privilege to get elected as the Homecoming king.

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I’m a Muslim, my host family’s Mormon and I attend a Catholic School. This is as diverse as it gets. It’s definitely a big learning experience for me and I’m getting acquainted with a lot of different concepts and learning a lot. Attending the mass on Friday in school and then later going for Friday prayers to the mosque and then attending Mormon Church on Sunday is definitely a part of the package.

To be short, YES is the best thing that has happened to me yet. Everybody should ‘YES’ once in their lives and the world would be so much better. (The first picture’s my senior picture too)”

 

 

Hopefully you all enjoyed his journey just as much as we did. Did you learn anything? Good if you did and if you didn’t, make sure next time you read more carefully( even the sign boards on the way to McDonalds). Feel free to share your likes , dislikes, comments, questions in the comments down below or tweet us. You can also share your unique experiences with us and send it to our email address(written down below) to get featured on “ExchangeStudentStation”

Twitter: @ExchangeSs

Email: exchange_ss@hotmail.com

SOM’s twitter handle: @M_Umer_Janjua

Editor: @AqibMalik9

 

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10 Things You Need to Survive a Workshop.

“Yay! I got selected for XYZ workshop! But…. what if? how do I? Why this? where then?”

Well all your questions have been answered here in this brief 10 points you need to know to survive a workshop.

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1. Take a suit/dress.

For boys: Take at least 3 dress shirts and 3 different ties. So by chance if you wear the same suit over and over again, you will have a new look with different shirts and ties everyday.

For girls: Take three tops to go with a skirt or dress pants and different jewelry to change looks. That way, you will look classy, elegant, non-poor and pretty. 

 

2. Start conversation with random strangers other than your clan members. That way, you will have more fun, more learning and the one we all want: more popular!

 

3. If you see someone being all shy and non-interactive, go to them, talk to them and make someone’s day by introducing him/her to new people.

 

4. For breakfast, eat as much as healthy food as you can. By healthy I mean, milk, brown bread for protein and some fruits. 

 

5. SLEEP! Take your total 7-8 hours sleep. Yes I know the phrase, YOLO, but that phrase don’t work always. Partying all night and not taking sleep can make you absent minded and just as much “out of your mind” as if you were drunk. YOLO!

 

6. Speak! Always try to interact with the facilitators during the session if required. Make your mark by trying to groom yourself. Also this will help you in conducting your own workshops in the future. 

 

7. The social nights are always a great thing to look up to in any workshop. Make sure, you are actually looking up for socializing and not being with that your newly met special friend to socialize with. 

 

8. If you have an talent, make sure everyone gets to know it during the workshop. Nothing better than a good memory of a good person. 

 

9. Yes, talk, interact, laugh with the facilitators but don’t butter the lion. They get it! As a result, you are on the hit list, may it be positive or negative which depends on your luck. 

 

10. Be yourself! Be humble as you finish the workshop. You got it because other people did not get it. Be thankful to those others. It takes a moment to turn the tables!

 

Good luck with surviving the workshops coming up!

Follow us on twitter @ExchangeSs. Feel free to tweet us for any queries. 

 

Editor: @AqibMalik9

“My Host Family doesn’t love me!”. A journal analysis.

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“Hello,

Let me get straight to the point and tell you how I feel. It’s been more than a month that I have been living with my host parents. First few weeks were great but now I feel as if they don’t treat me the same way they used to. They don’t smile with me all the time, they take all the work from me while their own daughter is just sitting on the couch and watching the Television. Last night they shifted my bedroom in the basement although I was much happy with the upstairs room that I shared with my host sister. I guess they don’t like me anymore. I hope their attitudes get better with time. I miss home, China. “

 

If some of you feel the same like this upper paragraph. Then you are all at the right place. This phase is your homesickness/cultural shock phase. With all the different things you are trying, you find ways to express yourselves. With every month passing your host family will adjust with you even more and that’s when one thinks as if they don’t like them anymore.

If they ask you to do a chore, this means they trust you enough to do it. Now they believe you are part of their family and it’s very natural to entrust you with a responsibility which their own son/daughter can’t do. Cleaning your room, washing dishes, taking the garbage out, eating the vegetables, taking the dog out for a walk, doing the laundry and not using much social media is a part of your exchange year. This maybe is quite different from your own culture but in order to be successful, get use to it.

The mentioned story in the begining is a true story of one of my friends from China and she wanted me to share this excerpt from her journals with all of you. She said, as she reads it now, these are all good memories to her and she laughs at them. Yes, you heard it right. Those were good memories. She is a successful alumna and is doing her degree from University of Massachusetts. Wait! There is one thing to unleash about her; she is living with her dearest host family.

I hope this was helpful to you.

For any question/Queries, you can comment down below or email us at Exchange_ss@hotmail.com or tweet us at @ExchangeSs.

 

Editor: @AqibMalik9

 

Online Presence and Social Media usage

What is Social Media?

  • Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.

Thing which you need to know is 

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What is digital foot print?

  •  Whatever you put up online stays there forever. If you put an inappropriate status on FaceBook, no matter if you remove it after a while, it leaves it’s mark on the internet for lifetime.

Social Media and Exchange Students:

As an ambassador of your country, it’s your utmost duty to represent your country well. Using Social Media wisely can help you gain lots of attention. Few things which are related in this topic are:

  • Easy and Accessible
  • Popularity
  • Public Image
  • You = Pakistan

While on your exchange program, the only way to tell people about your achievements is by posting statuses, picture reporting, tweets, Flickr Pictures etc. It will make other people realize how well you are doing and what is your progress. Putting up an emo(emotional) status will make others think as if you are not having a good time. You are a public person now. It is your responsibility to clear your image by every moment. DONOT tag random people in statuses, tweets. Feel free! Feel the wisdom!

The FAQs you all may have:

  • Why is it so necessary?
  • Why is it so Important?
  • What are the Benefits?

Well, who doesn’t want to get appreciation while doing something good. Everyone loves to get some appreciation. Reporting of any event is the main part of it. If you report wisely and good enough, you are on the right track. Benefits, experience it yourself 😉

 

Things to be Careful about:

  • Comments
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Link Shares
  • Status Updates
  • Display pictures
  • Language

All the above mentioned points are very important to be careful about. Your every status is being seen by everyone including your neighbor aunt’s daughter and your FORMER alumni fellows. The sort of language usage is well observed as well. It’s very common for exchange students of the same country to talk with each other in their native language and forget their rituals but it is not right path.

Another newly started trend on the social media sites are the scams. Such as auto generated messages and “lol what are you doing in this video” Direct Messages on twitter. Don’t click, don’t suffer.

 

The must Do’s of Social Media are:

  • BLOG!
  • Talk/Create/Leave Footprints about positive image of Pakistan
  • Pictures and Videos: BE SELECTIVE!
  • Use privacy controls effectively
  • Be optimistic and discuss positive things more than negative ones

The must don’ts of Social Media are:

  • Racism
  • Derogatory Comments
  • Foul Language/Swearing
  • Host Family Issues discussed online
  • Bad/Inappropriate Pictures
  • Sharing things you are not allowed to do

Hopefully point of creating an “Online Presence and social media usage” was well clear. If you have any sort of questions and queries or just have a review, leave a comment or tweet us at:

@ExchangeSs

 Editior: @AqibMalik9

Sneak Peek to emotions- DCOs

Here is a sneak peek to emotions and experience that KLYES batch is going through in their Re-Entry orientations in Washington,DC. For more follow #KLYES10 #iearnus @exchangess for more highlights.

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Nayab Mir shares her exchange story!

“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.

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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!

Civics Education Workshop

Civics Education Workshop

This year’s Civics Education week has been started. The students are off to DC for some exciting roller coaster week where leadership qualities await for them to get enmeshed in them.

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