By Syeda Naushad (YES 2022-2023, Pakistan, placed by Greenheart in Richmond, ME)
My name is Syeda Zainab Naushad, and I am from Pakistan. The months that I’ve spent in the United States have been the most memorable months of my life.
I love nature, which is why I was so excited that I was placed in a state with lots of greenery. I never heard of Maine before, but now I am happy that I also have a home and a family here. I really love my host parents because the connection I made with them makes me feel like I am their own child. We have gone apple picking and fishing, which was so fun, and we’ve also gone skiing, skating, attended an ice hockey match, visited a wood cabin, etc. I have also made some Pakistani dishes for dinner and one snack.
Christmas was one of the best days I’ve had in the U.S. We decorated the whole house with sixteen trees and other decorations, and we put lights outside on the bushes, which looked magical at night. I also loved putting the main ornament on the top of the tree. We made cookies and gingerbread together, which was the most fun part, and we ate green bean casserole, ice cream pie, chocolate cake, turkey, cheese potatoes, my host mom's special fruity drink, and so on. I like teddy bears, so my host mom bought a teddy bear tree for me, which was really sweet, and my host parents gave me a lot of gifts, which I am so grateful for. I gave my host family a Pakistani scarf and several other things that I figured were their favorite. Unfortunately, there was no snow on Christmas because it rained the night before, but we all wore matching outfits and had the most amazing time together.
February is my host mom's birthday month and we decided to surprise her. My host dad took her out while the rest of us decorated the house, and when they came back we shouted, “Surprise!” It was magical and the smile on her face was so big that it made me feel so good.
I love my school. It is a small school, which is why there are a small number of activities, but still it is the best school. I play soccer, I joined the key club and the garden club, and I’ve started playing softball. My main subject is computers because I am interested in coding, so I also joined the robotics team.
After joining the robotics team, I realized that building was actually more fun than programming, so I helped build the arm of the robot and drilled holes wherever and whenever needed. I also did ribbiting once the parts were attached, which means breaking the nail once it's in the hole to seal parts together. My team made a robot that was designed to put cones and cubes in the correct place by itself until the driver takes over. We worked in our neighbor’s garage and we named the robot John in memory of the late husband of the neighbor who gave us her garage.
In March, our team, “Delta Prime Robotics,” entered into a robotics competition. Me and my three friends from the team made posters to help support us in the competition. Usually a number is assigned to all the teams during the competition and they are recognized by that number, but our cheering was so loud that instead of saying our number, they started saying our team name to introduce us. When we won first prize, it was the best moment as everyone clapped for us and all the mentors were smiling after a long period of stress. We all were so happy and we each received a shield trophy banner and a medal, and we were featured in the newspaper.
We also had an international night at my school where I presented about Pakistan, and a lot of exchange students from other countries came. I wore my traditional dress and set a table representing Pakistan with some clothes, jewelry, shoes, our praying mat, and tools. I also made a poster and a Pakistani dish called “pakora,” the most famous dish during the month of Ramadan, and is made from potato chickpea flour and some spices. I performed a song in my language and wrote the names of people in my language, which they were so happy to see. I met a lot of people, and some had even visited the northern areas of Pakistan, while some people were amazed to know that there is also a country called Pakistan. The second international night was at another area high school, where I did the same things but for the food, I offered a Pakistani snack called “chilli milli,” which is a hot gummy. People were so surprised to know that there are spicy candies too. I shared information about my country to a lot of people, which was the most proud moment for me.
Being here I have learned a lot of things that are definitely going to play a very important role in my life. Coming here was one of my best decisions and I am really grateful that I had a chance to represent my country to the world. Thank you so much, YES.