My American Experience – Living Like a Local

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Short Term Enrichment Program participant Mengyi Lyu shares her experience living and volunteering in the U.S. this summer.  This is her American experience.

It was a precious experience for me to participate in the international volunteer program in the United States during my second year of graduate university. I really appreciate the opportunity provided by our school and CHI. Although my project period is only one month, I have gained a lot.

My project is located in Massachusetts, in the northeast of the United States, near New York, where the world’s top universities——Harvard University and MIT  are located. The state government is located in Boston, and my work and living place is in a small town named Lawrence, which is 30 kilometers away from Boston. My host is Diana Severino, the first time we met each other at the airport she gave me a warm hug, which made me feel very welcome. Diana usually invites me to many activities, I have followed her to visit her sister, around Boston harbor by boat together, gone to the beach to buy lobster, I also attend some church activities. When I go shopping with her, she quietly told me if the discount is appropriate which is really very lovely. She also gave me full freedom in the home, she is always so patient that she can answer all sorts of questions. When I go to travel, she will give me guidance and advice. Although there is only me in a foreign land, but I don’t feel lonely with her. I really appreciate my host family.

My volunteer organization is Little Sprouts, a professional early education facility that provides education services for children in kindergartens, preschool, and lower grades. I am assigned to a class which the children are between 4 and 5 years old . The teacher in charge of the class is Mr. Juan. I work like a teaching assistant, mainly assisting Mr. Juan to manage the class order and prepare some courses.  The whole class atmosphere is very exciting; teachers will call the children my friends. It’s really different to Chinese kindergartens. I try to share some Chinese culture to the teacher and classmates. I have introduced the Chinese paper-cutting to them and taught them simple cut grilles. I told them when the Chinese New Year is coming, Chinese will stick the paper-cutting on the window which means auspicious. So after the class, the teachers put their papers on the window with hoping to bring them good luck. I also showed the kids lots of panda stickers, which the kids loved so much. I will talk to my colleagues when I have free time, they are very friendly. whenever I help my colleagues to do something, they will give thanks to me, and always call me as “the best Emon”, I think I know what is respect real mean from them.

I also went to New York on the weekend. I visited the metropolitan museum which is  one of the world’s four major art galleries. I saw many paintings drawing by Van Gogh and Picasso, as well as some Chinese artifacts. I also went to Times Square, Fifth Avenue, Statue of Liberty, Chelsea, etc., but I was most impressed by Broadway musicals. I saw the most classic opera: The Phantom of the Opera. The stage, the actors, the plot and so on are impeccable, the feeling in it is hard to describe. Of course, I’ve been to Boston many times, to visit Harvard University and MIT, to eat seafood , to walk through the freedom way. I happened to go to the Boston pride festival.  I saw the parade lasting nearly four hours, the various groups use their dress up, signs, body movements to express themselves, this activity let me deeply realized that love has no boundaries.

This project let me live and work for a month like the local. I experienced a variety of American culture. Of course, my English has also been greatly improved. I believe that in this month I learned respect, tolerance, understanding, and so on, those will be a large impact to me on my future study and life. I also will try to do something in the future to widen my sight. In a word, it’s really an unforgettable experience.

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