This summer, CHI invited its USA Work & Travel participants to take part in a contest to help show off their program spirit. Participants were asked to submit an essay, video or photo slideshow that best demonstrated their personal â€˜American Experience’. In their own words and images, here is what this year’s CHI USA Work & Travel alumni have experienced during their summer in America.
Essay by Vlora Vitija, Kosovo, worked in Greensboro, NC
A sunny Sunday was the starting of realizing my American dream. A nineteen year-old girl whom life taught a hard lesson. Being witness of people’s death in front of her eyes, terror, and the pain of losing her father in the war, being left only with her mother and her sisters in the open sky it speaks a lot of the painful reality of my life. “Sometimes breathing is hard, eating is hard but living is the hardest” is a quote that describes me. Life goes on and it is true, time can heal everything. A girl that never could even imagine going somewhere without her family took a big step toward her dream.
She decided to come here no matter what without knowing what the future had planned for her. Together with two other girls we traveled for about twenty-seven hours to be here-in the Promised Land. At the John F. Kennedy airport I started living my dream. Since I had never seen black people in person I had the honor to see that they are better than many white people. We were running late to catch the plane from New York to Charlotte and we were worried that we will miss the plane because it was too crowded and we had to wait a lot on the gates. A black man heard us because we were talking in English and he just said follow me. It was so nice of him, he helped us, we did not wait anywhere and we were able to catch the plane in the last minute.
Meeting Americans, especially our hosts was the other funny part. Our hosts are comedians and I am going to write a book about them. I am living in their â€˜doll house’. Days went by and I started working at Sonic, which is one, okay let’s be honest, one interesting part of my American experience and exciting too. There I met some wonderful people, learned a lot about what Americans mostly like to eat, how friendly and lovely they are. I have a funny co-worker, he quits daily in the middle of the shift, continues to work out his shift and arrives on time the next day, ready to work in uniform and sooner or later I hear him say “I quit”.
Part of my American experience is the fact that I often found myself dealing with language misunderstandings and definitely it is better to make a person repeat hundred times what he or she is saying than to say yes without understanding what the question was. Americans are really patience people, they love pets very much and they are patriots as well. Since I was here for the 4th of July I saw how much they love their country and their flag.
Every day is more special than the other one, but the most unique, coolest thing ever was the waterpark in Myrtle Beach. I had the time of my life over there. I liked every single thing, but The Dark Hole was the best, the scariest, the craziest slide I have ever tried. When I got inside it, I did not know what to expect and I really wanted to know why it has that name. I started screaming because it was too dark and at the other moment I just could not stop laughing and I think I released all my negative energy inside it.
I really feel like the luckiest person ever and I will never regret deciding to come here. Beside everything else I learned a lot about myself, I am much friendlier now, I even say “hi” to strangers and I started to appreciate my life and family much more than I used to. Now I do know that life is wonderful, and America is the country of possibilities, diversities and one of the best things that ever happened to me.