By Khushi Jeswani (YES 2018-2019, Pakistan, hosted by ASSE in St. Johns, MI)
My exchange year is filled with so many fun memories. Recently, my host school St. Johns High School in Michigan won the state drama competition for the first time since 2008. Everyone kept saying that I was the lucky charm.
After coming to the U.S., I was given the chance to explore my interest in theatre. I enjoyed working with my theatre family. I was part of the set crew and was also an Assistant Director. First, we performed at the district level and got some critiques from the judges, after districts’ we had made a lot more improvements in our show. The weekend after districts we had the regional competition. We all were so nervous about whether we could make to states or not and luckily, we made it. That night was so memorable. We all were over the moon.
The weekend after regional we had the state competition. That night we were all so nervous, but we performed our best. I can still hear the announcement stating: .... and the winners are Production of Failure; A Love story by St. Johns High School! As they said our name we all started screaming, crying, and hugging each other. It was an unforgettable moment.
I really enjoyed working with my theatre family and made tons of friends during the show, even two best friends. I am so happy that I have made American best friends because I never thought about that somebody would be so close to me. I am also so lucky to have such a great host family.
A beautiful thing about being an exchange student is the opportunity for not only the exchange student, but also for the host community and host family to break stereotypes about their respective countries. During my stay in the U.S. so far, I have never lost a chance to break the stereotypes in my host community about Pakistan. At the same time, my host family also breaks my stereotypes about my host community, America, and American culture.
Most of the eastern people, including myself, always thought that American culture is not good. But I am blessed for having a perfect American host family who proved that people here in America also have their feelings and their time for others. They love and support each other in every situation.
I have tons of memories with my host family but the best one is celebrating Christmas. The time flew so fast and they just mesmerized me by showing their strong bonds. This year, instead of a tree whose life has been interrupted abruptly for the Christmas mill, my family bought a living tree and we all decorated that by the Christmas gifts and Christmas ornaments. Many people work until the moment of Christmas and miss out on the preparations leading up to it, but my host family and I enjoyed the Christmas to the fullest. The exchanging of love, care, gifts and memories made my heart fill with joy. Nothing makes memories last longer than the memory of peace, tranquility, harmony and a slow pace all at once. My host family was singing Christmas Carols, and I didn't just listen to them – but I also joined them. We also watched Polar Express and drank hot chocolate on Christmas eve. I feel like I can go on and on! Christmas is about making special family traditions and memories. The gifts and yummy food are just a bonus!
Thank you to my host family for everything which you had done for me so far, to my theatre community for an unforgettable memory, and to my natural family for supporting me. Thank you YES for actually giving me this chance.