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    Posted March 17, 2014 by
    Chicago, Illinois
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    My year in China

    In late August of 2012, I was on a quest to a far and distant land. At age sixteen, I had a full ride scholarship, thanks to British Petroleum (BP) and American Field Service (AFS), to study a year abroad in China; little did I know the impact of leaving my American life would have on me. It didn’t hit me, until I was on the plane, that I was heading away from everything I knew; my friends, my family, my culture, and beliefs. I had to be ready to learn how to adapt to a new family, a new culture, and whole new life perspective. It was time for me to start taking steps away from home and into a new world.
    One of the greatest gifts that I got from AFS was getting two families. One of them was my Chinese host family: without getting anything out of it, they open their arms and accepted me not only to enter their home, but also to integrate into their daily life and become a daughter and a sister to them. Even though my Chinese family was very busy they always tried to make me feel special, for example; when my parents had to leave out of town to work Ayi (it means aunt in Chinese) took me to her home town and cared for me and showed me how to cook a dish or two Before leaving Ayi gave me a hug and told me that she has already lost one child now she was going to lose another, that day I learn something, that matter how far I will be from her she will always be like a mother to me. The other family that I got thru AFS is a bit more diverse we all come from different homes, culture, and different beliefs. AFS was able to unite us and help us to be there for one or the other when we need help, support, or even someone who were able to talk to when we need an ear. Now I have a sister from Germany and two brothers, one from Spain and another from Italy. Thanks to the BP scholarship I had the opportunity that I would have not been able to have gotten if it was not for them, I was able to learn not only about China’s culture and people but also about Spain’s, Germany’s, and Italy’s.
    On the plane ride coming back to Chicago, I was thinking about the differences on the ride to go to China, compared to the ride coming back. On the ride to China I was nervous, happy, and eager to meet my new family and show them not only American culture but also some of my Hispanic culture. Coming back though, I was excited to see my family and friends again. Now I have the opportunity to show them some of the Chinese culture and some of the cultures that my friends showed me. If we all try to learn about one and other culture, history, and lifestyles then ,maybe we would be able to diminish stereo types and appreciate the small items that we contribute to make this world that we call home. I would like once again to not only thank BP but also AFS for giving me the opportunity to learn and to live in a whole other world, and to be able to grow and learn more about myself.
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