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    Posted March 16, 2014 by
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    More from PuakeaJutka

    Study Abroad for Peace


    My question:


    “I would like to ask our First Lady, Michelle Obama for her opinion regarding the importance of receiving an education abroad with the goals of gaining first-hand experience of different cultural values, customs, and world religions as a new commitment toward contributing to long-lasting peace between Nations.”


    I am very much in support of studying abroad, and it would be wonderful if it would be subsidized by the government as well. It not only offers young eager minds wonderful cultural experiences, but it also promotes friendship between people and even nations. As we learn about each other’s cultures, customs, and religions, we leave behind old clichés and our deep-seated beliefs about people and cultures in far-away places. We often make judgments about things that are strange to us and are not understandable because they are outside the comfortable box of our own experiences and traditions. To study within foreign countries can offer valuable first-hand experience which enriches not just our academic goals and curriculum but can also build lasting knowledge and valuable information in numerous areas of life.


    Also, to learn a new language is an excellent opportunity and opens doors to new perspectives in every aspect of our lives. My dear mother used to say that we are as many people as the languages that we speak, which is so true. I still thank her every day in my heart for the fact that she encouraged me as a young student to learn important world languages. I will never forget the excitement that I felt the first time that I understood a conversation while sitting on a crowded bus in a foreign country. It was as if my mind revealed new insights into a hidden world where, until then, foreign words were just scrambled background noises. This awareness of sudden understanding brought tears to my eyes. Any learning process itself is of the greatest satisfaction and joy, but to learn in a foreign setting, a language or an academic skill is truly a life-altering event. Moreover, it is a beautiful adventure.


    I was a foreign exchange student in the United States of America. I then became a proud citizen of the United States in 2000. I flew to Hawaii in 1986 to study at the university and learned so much about different cultures, which I learned to honor. The first day that I entered a classroom in Honolulu after having come from far away Europe was the most treasured event in my life. The first bashful smiles and misspoken words created a strong bond between our differing ethnicities, which is still lasting many years later. To be able to meet the students from all over the globe in a simple university barrack on campus ever changed my life. The moment that I became as a foreign exchange student, I was equipped with goodwill and the wish to learn the wonders of the new world in order to become a better human being.


    When we all would welcome each other as friends with good will and an open mind, the world would be a more peaceful place, because we would not fight against our new found friends. When we all would learn more about each others culture, religion and customs, the world would be a friendlier place because, as we would know each other better, we would not be fearful of each other. When we would stop the endless hand me down chain reaction of prejudice from one generation to the other, the word terror would become meaningless because, with forgiveness and tolerance in our heart and actions, we would not despise each other anymore. Then without hatred and violence our world would become a better home for future generations. Thank You: PuakeaJutka


    I thank Shari (iReporter Sunethra) for inspiring me to do this report.


    Video by Jutka T. Emoke Barabas

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