By Mustapha Sadick (YES 2019-2020, Ghana, hosted by CCI, in Columbia, MO)
Living in the U.S was my dream as a child and now, I say thanks to the YES program for making it happen. My goal, and the goal of YES, is to change the world. Just weeks ago, I was a happy and nervous young ambassador for my country, Ghana. Why happy? Because I'm going to the U.S.! Then why nervous? Because I'm going to stay with and meet people of different beliefs and races. I wasn't sure whether it would be easy or hard for me to be with Americans, but anytime I thought of it I remembered my goal as a young ambassador to change the world by sharing my culture and learning about other cultures. I knew doing so will bring peace and understanding to the world, thereby, creating the change I want.
The first day I came to America, I arrived into Washington, D.C. for my orientation and was very excited to get to know other people from different countries. I became friends with many of them. I thought, “Wow, America is a fun place to make friends easily!” I had forgotten they were all exchange students like me and eager to meet new people!
After our orientation in Washington DC, I took a connecting flight from Washington to Chicago, then to Missouri, which was stressful but quite fun. During the flight, I began to realize that I was going to meet my host mom for the first time. I started to think about what my first reaction would be when I see her. I had the idea from most American movies I’ve been seeing that people run to their family for hugs after they arrive at an airport. Would she receive me like her son? I decided to try. The phrase that touched my heart during our orientation in DC was “take the initiative.” An ambassador should be bold and ready to take the first step. I was ready to meet her with smiles and hugs.
When I arrived at the Missouri airport, I became very nervous again, walking through the gate area, and following others to the baggage claim. I saw my host mom highly excited to see me and she met me with hugs. It was fun seeing my name written on a welcome sign. I then became less nervous with smiles all over my face. It was very awesome to see me and my host mom hugging for almost a minute. That was the longest hug I ever had. I went for my luggage and we went to my first American restaurant and I had to order my own food. It was very funny because I didn’t know any of the foods on the menu list.
The next evening, we had lasagna for dinner. I’d never heard of lasagna before, but it was tasty. The next day was more fun at Walmart. My host mom is very kind. I love her. She makes me feel more than at home. I had a great time with her by sharing Ghanaian culture. She knows how to greet in Ghanaian Akan dialect which I’m very proud of. I introduced myself to some of my neighbors. I was invited by the neighbors to go biking with them, so I asked my host mom for permission and she excitedly said yes. It was very interesting and a great time. I’ve learned to say yes to any good opportunity. Saying yes to good opportunities gives you a new experience.
The next day we went to school to choose our classes. My first day in school was a little bit stressful. I didn’t know where my classes were, everyone seemed to be too busy to talk to me, and I felt lonely. I went to lunch and sat at a table expecting people to come and talk to me. Then when I went to basketball, many people started asking me my name, then I got to know them and to be honest, I didn’t want to go home. The next day at lunch I decided to sit with some people I didn’t know, and they ended up including me in their conversations. I talked with them and introduced myself. I took the initiative and it ended up successful. Already, the YES program is helping me to learn and grow. I can feel my life changing for the best.