The Fairy Tale of My Life

Everything was going perfect, the sun was at its rise, shining bright and I, Saleema Khowaja, with my parents, grandparents and gorgeous elder sister was having lunch when suddenly there was a knock at the door. I heard my sister screaming with a big smile on her face as she opened that letter. The only words I can remember she said were, “Yes! You are going to your dream land finally!”

The next day in my school bus, I was shocked and surprised to know that my best friend also got the scholarship and would be traveling along with me to my dream land. It seemed like God was utterly happy with me, as on reaching to school we came to know that our other two classmates were also selected. Not only were our teachers but the whole St. Bonaventure High School was really proud of all of us; claps and appreciation were all around us. A couple days after I was informed about my placement, I was placed in a land with milky streams, glitters of snow, cotton beds and the moo-moo of cows - a perfect place - my dream land Appleton, Wisconsin. As I began to reflect on my experience, I realized that two wise statements define my memories.

“I do not know what’s beneath sky, nor on what seas shall be thy fate; I only know it shall be high, I only know it shall be great.”
-Richard Hovey

As with all other fairy tales, this journey from my small city, Hyderabad, Pakistan, to fairy land started with big smiles and loud laughs across the walls of American University in Washington, D.C. But as soon as time came to say goodbyes to all the friends a witch of loneliness bought big tears in my big, dark eyes which were to be expected. But hey, it’s a fairy tale!

My big tears were dried by warm welcome hugs and kisses of blond fairies: my host family, which included tall and hilarious host dad Tom, friendly and most loving host mom Kristy, and most adorable princess Flora, and lastly my prince, who was hiding in my host mom’s belly at that time, Prince Leo. All the way from the airport to home I was so scared to see my new fairy land: two giant dogs and three kitties, but every single worry vanished as I saw that cute dream palace and my host mom gave me my personal pretty pink keys. I unlocked and stepped in to be greeted by the lovely licks and hugs of my pets.

Days and months passed away within the blink of my eye. American family life is really interesting, full of fun and love. We usually go out for dinner and walk downtown, go shopping, watch TV while eating chips and popcorn and do lots of fun activities. Finally came my first American festival: “Halloween.” All the fairies were dressed up fancy and went out for trick or treat; so did I. Next, what I was waiting for, was who would be the new king of my dream land? Yes, Elections 2008. I helped in a democratic campaigning and also went along with my host dad to vote for Barack Obama and he won! It was the most remarkable day in history since he is the first young and black president (king) of United States of America.

 In my magical school, I learned to play with numerical digits in advanced algebra, apply new experiments in chemistry, design clothes and homes in fashion class, learn new language Spanish and play sports in gym like swimming, golf, ultimate Frisbee and flag football and was also awarded as an honorable student at school. As of December, everything I dreamt and wished was here except for that stubborn little prince inside my host mom’s belly who didn’t want to get out.

It was already a perfect dreamy, scene outside cotton beds and snowy glitters; my host family took me skiing, snowboarding, and we made a snowman and angels - what else was missing? Oh yeah! Time to get our Christmas tree. A week before Christmas, we got our tree. What fairy tale holiday would be complete without sparkling lights and a star, it means sprinkle some stuff on our tree. Hooray! Its time to open our Christmas presents. The best advantage of being with Enzs is the extended family bonding they had. This also means lots and lots of gifts! Why don’t we have Christmas in Pakistan? It’s an awesome festival.

Finally after four months, I came to knew why all the kids get fat after their visit to fairy land. Each year my host grandmother and her sister celebrate Cookie & Candy Day. This is the day in the month of December and this time I was invited as a special guest who was in no time surrounded by thousands of candies, and I didn’t care about getting fat. I am a chocoholic person, so I ate and ate and ate... hehe.

Kicks! Woo- I felt kicks! No, don’t worry, no witches here. It's Prince Leo, everyone’s little dream come true. Well, he was finally ready to come out and here I saw my host dad running to get a pool ready with hot water, the midwife entered. My host mom got into the pool and pushed, pushed, and finally we all welcomed Prince Leo Thomas Enz to this world with all our love; he is just too perfect.

Happy New Year 2009! It’s going to be the most memorable year of my life and a year full of traveling; in the end of March my area representative took all the exchange students to the land of sunshine, Florida. I had so much fun; we went to beaches, water parks, and Disney World and did much more exciting stuff. Again I saw glitters of snow; yes, that means we were back in Wisconsin where it’s still snowing (though it’s April)! Well, my traveling is not yet over; I unpacked and then re-packed my stuff to go on a long vacation, first to Chicago, then Arizona and Los Angeles.

Finally I was tired and back at home, welcomed again with love and hugs by my fairy family, since this was my last month. It was going really fast. Mostly every weekend we were up north enjoying with the whole fairy family. Moreover, I also attended four fairy dream weddings where a prince charming came on a horse to get his bride, and experienced crazy American traditions. 

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” 
- Mother Teresa

Given a chance to be a small part of this great community, I tried my best to promote my culture by giving presentations and by my own behavior, character, and dressing and also served many fairies to thank them for all the love they gave me. In my magical school, I joined Key Club, International Club and Amnesty International Club which are all volunteers’ service clubs. I enjoyed helping elders rake leaves from their yards, Christmas caroling for them, help Kiwanis in a brat fry, chili fest and porky pancake breakfast. We walked miles and miles for babies and third world countries like Nicaragua. I helped Lions club in poinsettia sale and much more.

I simply cannot describe the good feeling I felt when I see a smile on somebody's face, when I go to bed at night knowing I did something good today. I got more than just hours of volunteering, I got a part of myself who loves kids now, who can hug an old lonely man without hesitating, and I got a new human being who realizes the world is not all about her: me, that human being is me! I know now that I can make a change. I also got to see the State Capital Building and know how Fairies do politics. Interesting, right? And my host grand parents took me to church and I learned the ethics of Christianity. 

Lastly, for outbound YES students my advice would be dream and live your dream here; you are lucky to get this chance. Enjoy, have fun; Americans are the fairies of my fairy tale, but you can make it yours. Step in this fairy tale and try to get best out of it. Just remember that throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.