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A New View of America
Written by: Najwa Dakir, YES Morocco
Marcel Proust once said “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”; I have never come upon anything that summed so perfectly my life and my dreams. As a young child, I always reached to foreign movies in times of sadness and sorrow. I always felt so inspired after watching these movies. I realized that I needed the world to live, grow, learn and most importantly, share. A book about India, with its crowded streets, rich of culture, colors and spirits, feels inspiring. A picture of Paris, with its Eiffel tower and night lights, makes my heart beat faster. I cannot resist feeling so intense every time the world was brought to me. In my head, my luggage was packed and I was ready for the adventure.
I remember hearing about the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Study program for the United States in an email. At the time, the opportunity seemed both unreal and unattainable, but I decided to give it a try. I was a 16 year old teenager, with no significant life experience, and whose dream was suddenly within reach. Was this my moment?
After several months, I was selected as one of 25 Moroccan students chosen to participate in the YES program. My happiness was beyond what can be described with words. Life had set its shine over me, and I was longing to spread my wings and release all my potential to the world.
Once in America, my life turned into a tornado of ups and downs with extreme feelings at different points of time. My entirely theoretical and somehow perfect conception of the United States fell apart, and a more realistic and mature perspective emerged. America is not only New York, Chicago, beaches in Florida, casinos in Las Vegas, or Hollywood, America is also little towns in the middle of forests and cornfields where everyone knows everyone. I starting to grow new eyes, and the sight was inspiring.
My experience was priceless and I am very grateful for the opportunity. I admired a lot in America, especially its values of freedom and equality, diversity, and the possibility to go as far as one sets their mind to. The educational system and community service inspired me to improve my home community, and share my experiences. During the exchange I met many people, some were great and deeply changed me, and others were not as much of a pleasant experience but definitely contributed to my unavoidable growth in America.
In a year, I grew from a young girl with big dreams into a realistic human being with great ambitions and expectations in life. Now, I am motivated to give to the world as much as it has.. and is about to give me.