Life in the U.S. / Thank You Thursdays

Thank You Thursday – Soffian from Sierra Leone

As our 21/22 students are starting to return to their home countries, their suitcases are packed with wonderful memories of their time in the US. This week’s Thank You Thursday, Soffian from Sierra Leone tells us about some of his favorite American memories: his first experience of playing card games, going camping, watching a movie in the theater and playing in the snow on Christmas Day! Soffian has been studying in Washington State with the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. His sweet words are the perfect reminder of how it’s all about the little things with family and friends that make an exchange year special!

You can never tell or certainly imagine the treatment you could get in another country unless you go there. During the first five months of my stay in the US, I have had a lot of experiences and I would like to share with you two which I would never forget. My wonderful and unforgettable memories with my host family and the lovely ones I have at school. 

Soffian (green t-shirt) playing cards with friends

     When I came I had less idea about card games and other forms of playing. However, I happen to have a family that plays games at leisure. My first game with my host family was Family Feud, a fun and interesting game with my host dad telling sarcastic jokes as we were playing the game and I was still reticent till the end of my first week of stay. Two weeks later my family and I went camping for three days, which finally brought a smile on my face and a sense of belonging. I can still remember the chirping of birds, yelling from other children, stories told by everyone surrounding the fire which reminded me of my village life in Sierra Leone and how I had to listen attentively so I would not have to miss a single word because I barely understood English.

Soffian (left) enjoying dinner out with his host sister, Keira, and host brother, Anthony

    Soon I started going with Anthony, my host brother, to watch movies; our first movie was ‘Free Guy,’ my first live movie at the theater. I had no clue of what was going on and I was sleepy the whole time. Even though I was bored I still found it awesome, especially when families entered with big bowls of popcorn on one hand and their children holding the other hand as they walked to their seats. Currently I have watched more than five movies at the cinema and my favorite is ‘Spiderman – No way home’. In addition to that, we go on trips, sometimes to watch football games and soccer; sometimes on family visitation in the neighboring state and my mom would take a lot of pictures to keep as a memory upon our return. 

(back row) Host dad Mark, Soffian, host brother Anthony, (front row) host mom Kristine, host sister Kalysta, host sister Zainah from Jordan and host sister Keira happily wearing their matching Christmas PJs

I have celebrated Christmas every year but I never had Christmas spirit but my wonderful and amiable host family made me celebrate Christmas in a grand style with love. Firstly, we had a family dinner on Christmas Eve, watched a Christmas movie and wore matching Christmas pajamas and headed to bed and early in the morning everybody was in a worry to open Christmas presents and I got lot of presents. Just after that there was snow outside, my long awaited event – indeed, it was a Christmas miracle! One thing I have learnt from my family is that: Love, care for everyone and making everyone happy is the sole responsibility of a family.

Soffian having fun with his host sisters in the snow

I won’t be fair enough if I don’t tell you my school experiences. I attend at North Thurston High School which is a very big school, knowing all my classes is not an easy task and making friends is another problem, luckily for me I joined cross country from which I was able to make friends even though there were lot of language barriers, few weeks later I got use to so many people in the school and I was not bored anymore. We  do fun stuff in our classes like designing name tags and playing games like hokey pokey  and several others with the aim of getting to know one another in classes. There is no way you can be lonely in my school because we all care for one another.   

– Soffian from Sierra Leone

(top left) Soffian (3rd from the right) with his track team, (top right) Soffian (right) competing at a track meet (bottom left) Soffian proudly wearing his school jacket (bottom right) Soffian (bottom row, 4th from the right) and his wrestling team

Would you like to welcome a student like Soffian to your home and heart this upcoming school year? Check out the profiles of our amazing 2022/23 students!