By Megan Solano Perez, Costa Rica
I have been asking myself this question ever since I got here, “How can a government be so generous to the point of investing for a 5-week stay in the U.S for 20 complete strangers from all around the world?” Well, I guess I will never truly get an answer to this question, but what I do know is how grateful and lucky I am to have been selected for this wild journey. I will never be able to pay back for all the friendships I have made here, and the knowledge I have gained throughout the weeks, but I can certainly state that I have made a personal commitment to share my anecdotes, experiences and information I have taken in with as many as my students as I can. I want to be the multiplier effect that spreads the news to everyone because these are indeed good news. I know that many of my students will probably not get the chance to come to the U.S or even be out of the country, so I want them to get a glimpse of this beautiful nation that has been so kind to me through my stories, pictures, and endless gratitude towards America. I also know, on the other hand, that my testimony will impact many of my students’ lives and, who knows, they will maybe be the future SUSIs.
At the beginning of the trip, I thought it was going to be difficult to understand America’s culture and ways of living, yet the toughest part was living right there with me at the ITD house. Don’t get me wrong, I am under no circumstance complaining, actually I am glad I got to see first hand this wide variety of beliefs, traditions, roles and perspectives of my fellow teachers. I think most people, me included, live in this safe bubble surrounded by people we know and love. We wake up and go to work every morning driving in the same exact roads we always do, we then spend time with co-workers and students, and at the end of the day, we leave and go back home as usual. So, you can assume by know the huge shock I went through the first days after leaving my safe place. However, I cannot be any more satisfied of having pushed myself forward this once in a lifetime shot.
I have so many stories to tell my family from this journey that I can’t wait to see them. Nevertheless, I have the hope that these stories will not just be in my memory forever, but that they will get to explore and discover the America that I have had the privilege of knowing. So, Amherst, ITD staff, U.S, I will hopefully be back with the most important people for me to show them this country that has a special place in my heart! THANK YOU.
All opinions expressed by the program participants are their own and do not represent nor reflect official views from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, or of the Institute for Training and Development, Inc.