All my life, I have been driven by one goal, one dream, and one vision; to make a difference in the world, both through interaction with people from other countries and through education. When I entered high school, my desire was to learn the English language as thoroughly as I had both French and Arabic. My drive for discovery led me to apply in the fall of my junior year for a fellowship in America, a place where “dreams become reality,” a place committed to enabling students to become the people they want to be, a place where there are people who can help me make this world a better place. My passion grew even stronger when I found out that I was among only twenty-five students in my country to receive a scholarship to be part of an exchange program in the United States for one academic year. I was excited about life! Left alone at the age of 17 to discover the great unknown, I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and set again a few hours later. As the plane was landing, I realized I entered a dreamland.
After several months in Kansas, living in a diverse and productive environment, I have adjusted steadily to changes. I have never felt threatened, harassed, or misjudged. I observe American cultural norms while I keep and share my core values. With big goals and even higher ambitions, I vowed that someday I would step on America’s soil to do great things, and here I am, in Midwest America, Kansas, finally experiencing an American high school during my gap year, having the advantages of learning, discovering and sharing, stretching my abilities as a French tutor for American students in fourth hour, having the chance to participate in constructive discussions in lunch period and enjoying the freedom to enroll in rigorous and challenging courses. My experiences in Kansas are extraordinary. I feel thrilled when my classmates learn how to say basic expressions in French or Arabic. I am delighted to show others that Morocco is in Africa and share my foreign culture in various schools. I am also fortunate to have great hosts. They have allowed me to be the older sister to four amazing kids who help me everyday to be a more mature individual. They, along with my new American friends, have helped me to care more deeply about the needs of other people from other religions, cultures, and backgrounds, to be more socially aware, and to face new challenges every day.
In November 2010, I received a scholarship to attend a “People to People” conference in Atlanta, which proved an eye-opening and life-changing opportunity. The experience of volunteering with students from all over the world at Med Share, an organization that delivers surplus medical supplies to hospitals in other poor nations, the lengthy discussion of health issues with other delegates and representing my country, Morocco, at the International Student Panel, I gained an immense perspective. The opportunity to interact with highly motivated, like-minded students brought together in such a forum was exceptional. People to People’s sense of cultural progress, volunteerism and positive development opened my eyes. I have learned so much and now I am willing to give even more. A place that encourages such spirit and endorses acceptance between individuals matches my thinking and my interests. Invigorated by the experience upon returning to Kansas, I was inspired enough to strengthen my leadership skills and organize a new Blue Valley Northwest People to People Chapter at my school. Through the knowledge and hands on experience, I was able to gather many students, get them involved and make my project happen.
In every walk of life, I have deepened my interests in leadership and dance. Hence, two months later, I have been selected to take part in the YES Youth Leadership Summit in Arizona to develop my community action project and get involved with social entrepreneurship. My vision was to stretch my abilities by choreographing and teaching dance classes to younger kids in poor areas. Through practice, kids develop skills and reduce the stress of school and the mundane challenges they face everyday.
Throughout this year, I have learned that my greatest accomplishment has been the self-confidence I have gained. I have not spent my whole year being just an ordinary tourist. I have spent it trying to be the best, most well-rounded person I can be. I engaged and adapted to a world of self-dependence, where I had to learn to adjust in new environments and make my own decisions when difficult challenges arise. While the growth was inevitable, I have come to understand the importance of expanding worldviews and longing for new experiences. As an exchange student in America learning about the similarities and differences among people around the world, I intend to bring a new background and a unique perspective. I intend to develop from a child to an adult, to get ready to engage the world and achieve my vision of making a difference.