Here is a great piece from an AYA exchange student from Pakistan now living with his host family in New York. Korish shares his expectations and the reality he experienced when he came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student. He wanted to share his experience as a thank you to his American host family.
Date: August 6, 2017
Hi, I’m Korish from Pakistan. I’m a KL-YES exchange student who is hosted by AYA (Academic Year in America). Now, I have been placed in Corning, New York.
Expectations before coming to U.S.
I got placed on May 2, 2017 and received a letter from AYA, in which they provided me all the information about this family.
On May 3, 2017, I thought that I should write something to them. So, I wrote an email in which I told them all about myself and sent some photos of mine. They asked me about my Facebook ID and I gave them. So, this all goes on.
My host mother (Mallorey) told me everything about house, my room and all that stuff. She sent me some photos of her house, dogs, cats and family. They all were awesome.
Then I thought that I should get something for all of them. I asked my parents to get them Pakistani traditional clothes. They bought Pakistani shalwar kamez for my Dad, Elijah (host brother), and Massi (second host student from Italy). For Mom, my aunt (Kaukab) from United Arab Emirates sent the ladies shalwar kamez, and my Mother herself stitched the traditional Pakistani dress and a frock for my host sister (Evelyn). She also bought bangles for my host mother and host sister.
I was so much excited to be with them, because they all seemed wonderful people.
Then on the last day of my pre-departure orientation, I was told that I will be flying to U.S. on July 31, 2017. I told my host mother and she was like, “we can’t wait for you; just be here quick and we’ll have fun together.”
So, on July 31, 2017, I texted her that I’m sitting in the waiting lounge. She said that just let me know when you get to the next airport and also when you reach the U.S. She cares a lot and looks after me as her own child.
So, the airport staff announced that the flight is ready to be boarded, and I just got on the plane.
Reality in the U.S.
On August 1, 2017, I reached Washington airport, and from there, our KL-YES staff took us to National 4-H Conference Center where we had our 3 days of orientation.
Our schedule was so tough that I couldn’t even text my host mom for the first two days. And on the last day, I texted her that I will be coming tomorrow. She replied: “We are so much excited and all ready and also can’t wait to pick you up from the Elmira, NY airport.” I saw the message and was so excited that I could hardly wait to meet them.
So, it was August 4, 2017, and the wait was almost over. The KL-YES staff dropped me to the Washington airport and the airport staff gave me the two airline tickets. One was from Washington to Detroit, while the other one was from Detroit to Elmira, NY airport. After some security check, I was boarded on the plane. I reached Detroit at 10:30 am. The airport was so big, and now I started looking for the ticketing counter because I was not assigned the gate number. I was travelling for the very first time alone.
So, I reached the ticketing counter and showed them my ticket. The lady standing there just scanned my ticket and told me that my ticket wasn’t for that airline. She told me to take the escalators down to the basement and to take the left and there I will get a shuttle to the correct airline. I did the same, though I was nervous. So that shuttle took me to the airline, and I asked the security standing there whether I was on the right plane or not. They said yes. I went inside and told my situation to the Lady standing in the ticketing counter. She said that you have to CHECK-IN again. So, I did the same. I checked in and went to the security check and then reached to my gate.
Then at 3:30 pm, I reached the Elmira Airport. When I came out of the airport I saw my host family standing with the chart on which it was written: WELCOME KORISH (with my country flag). I was so much happy, and my Dad came and hugged me.
I was so much excited and happy to be with them. Then we waited for my luggage. Half an hour had passed but my luggage was not there. Then my Mom went to the luggage claim block and asked for my luggage. She was told that my luggage would arrive at 5:30pm on the next flight.
So, they told me not to be worried. Then they took me to the restaurant for the dinner. There I met my local coordinator, Terri. She’s really a nice lady. My family ordered a pizza for me that was so much delicious. Then at 5:00 pm we left for airport to get my luggage. Again, there I saw Terri. She was waiting for her exchange student. We all welcomed her exchange student. Then I got my luggage, and we picked it up and went back to home.
Then after some hours, Mom came up to my room and asked me if I want to go with her to the supermarket. I said Yes! I will go with you. So, we went to market and visited many other places and had fun. After getting home, I went to bed and slept.
Next morning, Mom called me up for the breakfast. I went down and saw she took the box of eggs out. I requested her if I get some eggs and make an omelet for all of you. She was like Yeah! Of course, we want to try the Pakistani egg. I made it for them, and they all loved it.
Then we went to the park for a morning walk. I had so much fun there that I even can’t explain my feelings.
Then Dad came from the office, and we went to Mom’s best friend’s house. They welcomed me. After that they took me to an amusement park, and there I played golf. That was so much fun, because I tried it for the very first time. Then we went to the Wagan’s where you can have everything you want. Then we came back to home and had dinner. My Mom cooked so many dishes for me, and I loved it.
My Host family is the coolest. They are more fun than I expected. Can’t wait for the Christmas season, because Dad likes Christmas. I am so blessed to have this family.
This was the kind of gift I wanted to give my family in return. Thank you Dad, Mom, Elijah, Evelyn and Logan!
Learn how you can welcome a great exchange student like Korish to your family with Academic Year in America.