Life in the U.S. / Thank You Thursdays

Thank You Thursday! Aiperi from Kyrgystan, in Nebraska

Today’s “Thank You Thursday” is submitted by Aiperi from Kyrgystan. She is studying on a Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) scholarship sponsored by the US Department of State.

Aiperi lives with her host parents Alexis and Michael and two little host sisters in Nebraska.

To my “Big American Family” –

My exchange year was way more than special mark in my life; it was that exciting and breathtaking experience which changed my personality in many ways. Like any other exchange students I came to the environment where everything was absolutely unfamiliar: foreign people, different points of view, different educational system, new language and many others. However all these differences were extremely important for me, and thanks to my host community I became that person who “loves” challenges. My entire year challenged me to explore, learn, wonder, grow, and to be better person than I was before.

I am more than grateful to my host family. I can surely say that I am luckiest person. I know that I can never pay back to those people who opened their hearts and doors to the foreign teenager from tiny unknown country; they supported me in everything, let me feel like I was important member of family, these people were the ones who trusted and gave their love. The most important about these people that they have great hearts, and that they accept me for who I am.  I still remember every day that spent with my host parents and sisters, from the very beginning till now. A little bit more than 289 days ago I was super nervous to be in a new family, but now I can’t  believe that it is time to say “bye”. But like Peter Pan says: “Never say goodbye, because saying goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting”, I just want to say “see you later” to my lovely host parents and my “little teachers” Nico and Elin.

Other bright color of my exchange year is my school. To be honest, I was surprised or even not happy with my school when I discovered it was a small school, but from my very first days I was accepted in this school and a big family. I am thankful to my teachers and coaches for making my year unforgettable, and being as my “parents”. Also, I appreciate my friends and classmates for their patience (they used to listen to me and give answers even it was hard to understand me because of my language, and they taught me so many things). Thanks to these people I became a person who is always ready to try new things, and be more open, silly, funny, even tougher. I can go on and on and still can’t thank enough my American school: teachers, coaches, classmates, clubs and sports teammates for great and huge memories and life-changing experience.

Also want to thank our Aspect Foundation coordinators and other exchange students for great time, fun things and activities. It is unbelievably great feelings to have such cool friends all around the world, with whom you can share ideas and memories (and see again some time in future when you save some money:)

Looking back to things I came through, I realized that one of the things I would do differently is to start being open and more talkative from the beginning of the year. Because I had been little too shy and closed person, and it was hard to be involved in some activities. So, I want to thank the FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange) Program and Aspect Foundation for the opportunity to learn more about myself and helping me to become a more independent, free, confident, full of passion and new ideas, and patient person.

One of my suggestions to future Exchange Students, talented and the bravest people, is not to look at their exchange years as a vacation, but as an opportunity to challenge themselves in new environment and try completely new things. This attempt will not kill them, but will just make them stronger. Do not waste time chilling at home and watching TV missing many chances to meet new people, learn more, and set unbelievable goals.  I want future exchange students to know how it is important for them to participate in the life of their host families, schools, and communities.

June 7, 2017 is the end of my journey…everyone likes to say that to me. As people in Kyrgyzstan always say, I will say that it is just a beginning of my journey. I am thankful to those who were part of my exchange year adding brightest colors to my life. I will definitely miss this year, and will love my host family, school life, friends, Aspect family with all my heart! Thank You!