American Experience Through My Eyes

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CHI Short Term Enrichment Program participant Jiayuan Wang, from China, recently finished volunteering at Chelsea Community Connection, in Massachusettes.   Before completing her program she shared with us her experience living in Boston.  She had a wonderful family, a great volunteer experience and was able to explore many areas of the U.S.  Please enjoy Jiayuan’s letter.

American Experience Through My Eyes

Honestly, it is my first trip to the US, let alone traveling on my own. Fortunately, all worries vanished the moment I met my host family. Eszter and Camilo are young parents with an adorable two-year-old baby, Gabriella, who loves my chocolate and make-ups. They love dancing and it is a family full of passion. I feel that we have no generation gap because we talked about almost everything, for instance, the price of real estate, the transportation, the custom of a wedding, the policy of the government and so on, even love stories. In addition, there are almost no restrictions at home which make me feel really at ease. I must say that being hosted by a family where is filled with
Hungarian, Spanish and English at the same time is definitely an intriguing and precious experience. They took me to see a Hungarian drama, drove me to go shopping in Wrentham Village Premium Outlet, and prepared meals for me as well as taught me to cook something simple such as pasta and macaroni. I’m glad that I can experience the true life in America especially in such an easy-going family but not just from TV series. I believe I’m gonna miss them so much because they offer me not only sense of security but also much more freedom than I am given at home back in Shanghai.

I volunteer in Chelsea Community Connection, in Massachusettes, and I have to say it is an amazing place and experience. First and foremost, the community connection is a brand new concept for me because I don’t think there are any similar ones in China. It is an organization supported by the government that helps people around Chelsea in need. We accept donations like clothes, shoes and books mainly for children. There is also a free table with adults things which can be taken by anyone passing by. My work is to file, sort donations and help customers find what they need. I think the organization is really meaningful which allows neighbors to help neighbors and ensures everyone’s basic necessities. Volunteering here is fun because Spanish is the mother tongue of many people here. I even learned several words like “ropa, abrigo, zapatos, grante”. Another fun thing is that I can pick and match clothes for children which I enjoy. During free time we chat with each other.  It is worth mentioning that due to the fact that Massachusetts is an immigration state, I meet people from all over the world which I had never imagined before. For instance, one of my colleagues, Jane, is from Guatemala; Irma, Honduras; Grace, Zambia; Cara and Stacy, America and everyone had her own unique life story: Cara knows English, Italy, French, Russian and a little Spanish; Stacy was an all subjects teacher before retirement. They all are optimistic and friendly. I spend most of my time with Jane and I love her so much. She is really cute and once she shared her Guatemalan food with me which is really delicious. We share different culture together such as the education system and I also learn much politics of the US from them. Again, it is such an amazing adventure to meet all those people and know something about themselves and their culture which I had never imagined to experience in my whole life and I cherish it so much.

I volunteer from Monday to Thursday every week so I have much spare time to go around and see this country and this city personally. The first impression Boston gives me is that people are so polite here because drivers will always wait for you crossing the road even if there is a green light for them which is definitely not the situation in China as well as in New York City. I visited NYC during my second weekends with my friend and I must recognize that it is heart-shaking when I overlook the city from the top of Rockefeller. What a metropolitan! The street is even still busy at 2am! However, I love Boston more than NYC because it is a city more suitable for living. There is a supermarket called Market Basket near my home and so many people shop there. I love it because supermarkets reflect the true life of people. I’ve read an article of the American author Russel Baker called Small Kicks in Superlands which describes supermarkets in the US and all he writes are reflected in Market Basket. For example, he says “People crawl from aisle to aisle with their carts overflowing.”, “The brilliant color of the fruit-and-vegetable department lifts the spirit out of gray January’s wearies.”. It’s really fun to experience what I’ve learned before and people here really buy a lot at one time. What’s more, I also experience a blizzard. At first I’m really excited and curious about that because in Shanghai it seldom snows but very soon I start getting tired of the snow for the fact that I can do nothing but stay at home.Another thing I find amazing is that people here are so friendly. When walking on the street, even strangers will praise me for my nice shoes and talk with me about Great Wall.

Through visiting various tourist attractions I find that Boston is a city with profound historical color. I appreciate the building styles so much, for example of Trinity Church, Boston Public Library, Old State House, Quincy Market and so on; I love the prosperity in Boston Downtown and Back Bay; I also enjoy go shopping on Newbury St, in Copley and Prudential. I will miss here so much and thanks for everything that provides me a variety of experiences. I hope I can come back to this city in the future!

With colleagues at Chelsea Community Connection

Freedom Trail in Boston

New York City from Top of the Rock

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