It did not take long for Manahil, Ayusa YES student from Pakistan, to feel like she belonged in her host family and community. Manahil is being hosted by the Savage family in Phoenix. Already, she has experienced so much and cannot wait to experience even more! In her own words, share shares what her exchange experience has been like so far:
Having been in Phoenix for only a little over two weeks, it's astonishing how it has already made a place for itself in my heart. The gorgeous sunsets, the warmth all the people seem to carry with them and the busy hustle bustle of life has settled with contentment in my bones.
I was placed in May so I have been in contact with my host family for a while. My host parents are like my real parents, I can talk to them about anything and every day at dinner time or any time we're all together we joke around or exchange things about our diverse cultures.
On the 25th August, me, my host mom and my host sisters went to a Kelly Clarkson concert - a welcoming present from my host mom. Rain splattering down and excitement buzzing in my veins, we got settled and took pictures while waiting for the opening acts. -insert first picture here - The concert was an experience of its own. It was jumping and singing along to songs with thousands of strangers and funnily enough, it felt like everyone in that large space was connected because of the music and a sense of belonging. That night made me decide that my life purpose was to attend a concert every night. Just kidding!
I went to school the day after I arrived and met a lot of people from different backgrounds and beliefs. I joined the badminton team which certainly sped up the process of making friends. People in Phoenix are extremely welcoming and there's good sense of humour everywhere you turn! Central High School has provided me with a lot of opportunities to explore new ideas and niches. Something I wouldn't have gotten to do back home due to the lack of extracurriculars and less significance given to sports. The diverse group of students that attend the school will also help to broaden my perspective on American culture so I'm really looking forward to the next ten months here.
How many exchange students get to go back to their home countries and boast about walking the ground of a wonder of the world!?
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I got lucky enough to get the greatest host parents who took us to the Grand Canyon! How many exchange students get to go back to their home countries and boast about walking the ground of a wonder of the world!? The Grand Canyon is beautiful and it looks different in every light and angle with its enormity and edges peeking out. The sense of awe upon seeing it in person is all encompassing, and you can see it reflect off every face there. It makes you wonder about your purpose in this life and appreciate the beauty of this world.
And though we have thousands of miles of distance between our countries, the differences aren't as huge as I made it out to be in my head.
Two weeks in, and I've already learned so much about American culture, eating out and going to parties. I've been to Church. And though we have thousands of miles of distance between our countries, the differences aren't as huge as I made it out to be in my head. I've met amazing people, visited beautiful places and I'm looking forward to similar experiences for the next 10 months.