First impressions on life in the U.S.
IVEP participant insights
Anthony Khair (Palestine to Washington, D.C.)
Being in the United States has been one of the craziest experiences in my life. So much has happened during this month that I cannot believe it has been only one month since me being in here. The United States has a different culture filled with people from many ethnicities, which, in Palestine, you do not find very often. There were differences like how people greet each other, go out and visit different places in the country.
I am trying my best to get involved in many communities especially Palestinian and Latin American communities in Washington, D.C. This has brought back many memories, being with different people from my community and them explaining to me how this culture works and how to adjust to it properly. I’ve had a man randomly come up to me on a bus and tell me that I was going to blow up the White House before telling me to go back to my country. I’ve had bad impressions and looks of people due to my ethnicity.
On the other hand, a lot of people have shown me hospitality, love and care. I am truly blessed for my time here and the people that have been with me helping me throughout this journey. We will find people that will discriminate anywhere. However, it is our turn and responsibility to change this mindset with our actions.
Princess Tshuma (Zimbabwe to Kansas City, Missouri)
We were taken on a tour where I got to experience the beautiful sites of different cities abuzz with yellow taxis. There were a lot of cars in the streets, unlike in my native Zimbabwe. Everyone seemed to own a car, and the long lines of blazing lights on the streets fascinated me. It was indeed such a beautiful moment. I was fascinated by the tall buildings. Whenever I thought I had seen a tall building, I would see a much taller one as we toured around the different cities.
Unlike in Zimbabwe, where we wait to blame someone else for our own fate, in the U.S. we are taught about independence and self-empowerment. And as young people, we take it upon ourselves to move out of our comfort zones and to face reality head on. I have already learnt a lot about time management and how crucial it is for young people to develop a schedule so that they can manage their time.
Renny Limpias (Bolivia to Elkhart, Indiana)
I found that here in Elkhart, Indiana, people don't walk at all. You don't see people walking around, everyone has a car. I love walking but walking here is sad. If you see someone walking in this small town, make a wish.
Another of my impressions is that the restaurants are empty — Americans order everything to go or eat in the car, this never happens in my city.
I love to see squirrels everywhere I walk, here there are a lot of squirrels, and it is very common to see them. In my hometown this never happens.
AhYoung Lee (Republic of Korea to Fresno, California)
Since I've been in the U.S., I got a different image of heaven from what I usually had before. I've met many friends from the U.S., Latin America and other countries. They have different skin colors and looks. They speak their own languages and English. We will be getting along and living together as children of God in heaven.
I'm trying to imagine how it will be. Who will be my neighbors? I guess we will communicate well with all, even though we have different mother tongues on the earth. God is amazing. There is no person who has the same appearance with others in the world. Everyone is unique. He is infinite.
Kevin Candia (Uganda to Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
When I arrived in the States, I was impressed by how the people were enthusiastic, direct and open-minded. The people I have met in Pennsylvania are very incredible. My best experience was meeting my host family. They have supported, taught and taken me on adventures of food, sport and activities as far as Troy in northern Pennsylvania.
My supervisor and the teachers have helped guide and orient me to the school where I am working. I’m assisting at elementary, middle and high school in the fields of science, physical education, art and design, STEAM, FCS maker space and the library.
Everyone seems to have a passion for religion, sports, art or music and performance. However different their lifestyles are, it is impressive how people are community-oriented.
With support, I have transitioned and adapted and not at one point have I felt like an outsider.
Photo credit: MCC photo/Brenda Burkholder