by Hamizah Kamirudin, YES 2018 Malaysia, hosted with CIEE in Salem, OR
It has been a week and three days since I have arrived in my host community in Oregon. I am so blessed to be a member of my host family because they are the loveliest American family I have ever known and I am so excited to spend time with them and make more memories with them for the rest of the semester.
I always wanted a kind American sister with a bubbly personality, and guess what? When I received my host family information and found out I had a host sister, I could not stop grinning.
The day I arrived in Oregon, on 18th January, I saw my host family was waiting for me, holding a sign that said, 'Welcome, Hamizah.' I was speechless. My heart was filled with joy and happiness. Upon my arrival, they greeted me with friendly hugs and smiles.
The first thing I did after my arrival was watch my sister's performance in musical theatre. She’s very fond of theatre and an important part of the Thespians club at school. She’s very talented and can sing, dance and act. She’s the kind of sister every exchange student would dream of having. After the performance, she introduced me to her friends. Everyone greeted me with a sincere smile and joy. I almost felt like crying because this was not what I expected at all. I felt like I was accepted. I was honored that they could accept me and be friends with me despite my skin color and different cultural background. They knew I was a Muslim because of my hijab yet they could still hug me without any doubts. From that moment, I realized that I would go back home with the most precious memories and experiences that could never be bought anywhere.
The next day was my first day of high school. I would be in the same grade as my sister. She was so helpful--She showed me around the high school which was very huge. What surprised me was that she set up a timer for my prayer times. It was very thoughtful of her. It was something that I never expected.
My sister was so amazing, I already feel like I am home because of her. She has shown me how kindness and acceptance can mean so much for a person with differences. I am indeed very lucky to be her exchange sister. ❤️ I wish I can extend my exchange semester!