At many universities across the United States, Global UGRAD students have been able to participate in Friendship Family programs. Whether through group trips together or cooking traditional meals, these types of programs are a great opportunity for students to share their culture with Americans outside of campus and to learn about their community in unique ways. Continue reading to see how one participant’s second family has impacted his experience this year.
In the first week at the university, it was difficult for me to understand some things because everything was new to me: new people, new places. I remember how students invited me to the “Family Friends Organization Bemidji.” The goal of this program is to exchange cultures and traditions between international students and American families. At that moment, I did not even imagine that I would meet an American friendship family.
Most students already knew their friendship family, and I was wondering who would choose me. I thought that no one would choose me because at the beginning of my studies at Bemidji State University, it was always very embarrassing for me to admit that I have a different religion than the local people here. When I received a letter from the program, they informed me that one American family did choose me. My second family consists of two parents, Adam and Vicky, and their two sons. From the first day, they shared with me their care and hospitality. When I arrived at their house, I still remember how they greeted me very warmly.
From the moment we met, we talked a lot on different topics. My host family said that they have traveled to Central Asia before, and when they saw on my profile that I am from Kyrgyzstan, they were interested in the culture of my country. I was surprised that my second family liked to learn something new from Central Asia. One day, I wanted to share interesting things about Kyrgyz cuisine with my host family. I made salads such as “Olivie” and “Vinegret.” Of course, I also cooked main dishes like “Plov” and “Chuck-Chuck.” These dishes are very popular in Central Asia and you should try if you ever visit. To my surprise, my host family liked everything. My younger host brother even helped me a lot to cook all these dishes. He also noted that he loved the “Chuck-Chuck” that we made together.
In the end, I would like to say that it is useful for foreign students to present their culture. People will get closer and they will not think that they are from different countries or nations. I am very grateful that I now have a second family. It gives me such pleasure when I do a lot of nice things for people that I consider as my second family.
Written by Temirlan Sardalov, Kyrgyzstan, Bemidji State University