Each month, one winner from the Academic Program and one winner from the Intensive English Program will be selected. Check back often! The question this month was:
What is your favorite thing about the United States?
Academic Program Winner
Name: Marina Cazilda de Moura Alves
Field of Study: Environmental Science
U.S. Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
Brazilian Institution: University of Brasilia
"There are words like Freedom, Sweet and Wonderful to say. There are words like Liberty that almost make me cry...”- Langston Hughes. The words of this poem have significant meaning for me as an international student. Living in the United States for more than one year has made me see the world from another point of view. I have met people from different parts of the world and have learned their beliefs, values, cultures and thoughts. I was also able to work side by side with people from different countries, which gave me a new understanding of how truly diverse this country is. The volunteer work allowed me to become a part of this multiculturalism, and it is what makes me love living in the United States.
As a host country, the United States welcomes immigrants “yearning to breathe free,” to quote Emma Lazarus. In her poem “The New Colossus," Lazarus brings the idea that “The Statue of Liberty became a greater symbol of conquest of freedom for incoming immigrants” (John T. Cunningham). As part of the history of the country, the Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It proves that, freedom is part of American history and has always welcomed people from different countries, which makes the United States a culturally diverse country.
The best example of seeing and feeling this diversity firsthand was participating in the UNICEF club at Rochester Institute of Technology. Through this club, I was able to visit Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach in Rochester, New York, and talking with a lady called Dhan Subba from Bhutan. She asked me several times about the political system of Brazil, and questioned me: “King? King? No freedom?” I told her that in my country we have a woman president and we also have freedom. She said emotionally, “Oh, in Bhutan we do not have freedom, we have a king.” In this day I had the opportunity to look at people’s eyes, and see that we all are the same, no matter where we are from, what religion we practice or what ethnicity we are. The volunteer work allowed me to become a part of this multiculturalism.
The best experience of my life was studying in the United States and immersing myself into a world of incredible culture, trying to understand people’s opinions and respecting them as they are. I have learned a great deal during my time here, and have gained a lot of knowledge in this learning, so I want to apply what I have learned to my future work in Brazil: helping vulnerable populations and environmental refugees in developing countries, bringing back their rights and protection to those who need a better quality of life. This Lady (in the photograph above with me) is called Dhan Subba, from Bhutan. She holds a paper with the text Refugee in America by Langston Hughes."
There are words like Freedom
Sweet and wonderful to say.
On my heart-strings freedom sings
All day everyday.
There are words like Liberty
That almost make me cry.
If you had known what I knew
You would know why.
Intensive English Program Winner
Name: Felipe Souza Teixeira
Field of Study: Electronic Engineering
U.S. Institution: University of Michigan-Dearborn
Brazilian Institution: Pontificia Universidade Catolica De Minas Gerais
"First of all, I am very happy to be here in the United States and I have many things here that I have been enjoying and loving since I arrived; I like the food, the housing that I live that is amazing, almost everybody is so nice and patient with me, as I am still learning English, and the university is really great. If I had to choose one of these things, I would choose the people who are so understanding that I am not yet fluent in English.
I was afraid about this - I always think something like, “I can't say something wrong because they’re going to make jokes about me or treat me badly!” Instead the opposite happened. When people here realize that I am foreign, and I am not fluent yet, I receive all the attention and respect. It is actually very common that people here seem interested about the country where I am from, and about the culture. Here in United States, I am different and this draws attention. This is perfect because this way I can practice my English and become fluent quickly and learn more about the culture of the United States. Mostly everybody who I meet here is nice, friendly and helpful.
To summarize, I am enjoying each moment here and improving myself as a person, student and professional. In this way, I am doing very well because I am loving the time while I am here, I am learning more than I ever imagined I would learn, and I realize that all this experience will be unforgettable and remarkable in my life."